Some years ago I decided it was time to get in shape. That’s not quite true; my wife decided it was time for us to get into shape. So we went to a gym, paid our money and started working out.

drip -drop- walking
Kristina Alexanderson via Compfight

I went every single day for over two months. Sometimes I went twice a day. I would also go to the lake and walk there. I was really giving it my best shot.

Like most everyone else, I had heard that if you started a new routine and stuck to it anywhere from 16 to 21 straight days that it would become a part of you, a habit, and that you would feel bad if you decided you wanted to skip even one day of doing that thing. I figured that if I went as often as I did that it would become a part of my life.

Of course that’s not what happened. My wife and I were quite gung ho for a relatively short period of time. Then suddenly she stopped going as much because she had other things on her plate, so I started going alone. But I had always hated going, whether I went with her or not.

I stopped going all that often, and after about 3 years I never even thought about wanting to go back, and my wife felt the same. We finally dropped our membership and saved the $50 we were paying monthly. And we’ve never looked back.

That proved to me that it’s not a time thing nor a repetition thing that changes habits. If its not that then what is it?

What changes habits and routines is the will to want to do it.

Over the course of the last year and a half I have dedicated myself to walking at least 5 miles a day, often closer to 10 miles a day. I have only missed a couple of days during that entire time, and both of those were days where I spent most of my time on airplanes.

The reason I had for wanting to do it was because I was having control issues as far as my glucose numbers were concerned, connected with my being diabetic. The travel was playing havoc with my body and I was feeling horrible and I not only knew I had to do something about it, I wanted to do something about it.

Because it was all about me and my health and wanting to feel better, I have been able to stick with the walking, which in actuality is something I’ve always loved doing. Even before my wife and I had joined the gym, I loved when the weather was good so I could go to the lake and walk. Sometimes in the winter, I’ll bundle up myself and walk the neighborhood for at least 30 minutes because I enjoy walking, although these days I’m more apt to walk my course in the house. By the way, if you think I’m kidding about that last one, check this video out:

There you go. 🙂 So, that’s how one can decide to change a personal habit. Will that kind of thing work when it comes to applying change to work processes and getting people who don’t want to change to come along willingly?

Unfortunately, no; you don’t have a chance if that’s your goal. Habits change when people are ready to change. Still, you have to be ready to make changes, and sometimes that’s a problem.

In business, it’s more about realizing when change is going to disrupt the comfort level of employees and figuring out how to deal with it. I’ve had to do this type of thing. I’ve been mostly successful, but I’ve also encountered difficulty here and there.

First, it depends on your authority level. If you don’t have the authority to force change, don’t even try because it’s frustrating as all get-out.

If you do, take it as slow as possible, make sure you have your processes as up to snuff as possible, and recognize that each employee is probably going to learn and accept it at their own speed. Acceptance has to be 100% of course, but you have to be willing to allow for a learning curve.

If you’re lucky enough to get everyone to embrace change, great! If not, be accommodating and discretionary, yet pay attention. If people can’t learn a new system or fight it even when it’s implemented, you might have to make a different kind of change. That’s a habit no one ever likes.

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