Studies show that it takes anywhere from 21 days to 66 days to form a new habit.
Whether it's a personal goal like exercising or having a better attitude or a business goal like improving sales or reducing employee churn, there are proven ways to effectively evoke change either on an individual or group level. Will it be easy? Of course not, but nothing worth doing ever is.
While the definition has evolved over the years (and person to person), S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are specific, measurable, achievable, and results-focused and timed.
Those looking to make any kind of change can apply this acronym to their situation in order to be more successful. For instance, goal-setters should consider when the goal should be completed, how they will determine if the goal has been met, and what challenges will arise and how to best overcome them.
Let's say a company executive notices a shift in morale in his or her workplace. For some reason, negative attitudes and opposition have emerged to the point where it's impacting overall morale and even the productivity of top performers. The executive's goal is to improve morale and, as a result, improve productivity. With S.M.A.R.T. goals, the executive will need to define who will be involved (e.g., department managers), how morale will be measured (e.g., employee monitoring tools), why morale decreased initially (e.g., employee survey), what strategies and tools will be used (e.g., gamification), barriers to success (e.g., top detractors) and whether the goal is achievable (e.g., perhaps new employees need to be onboarded).
Get examples of S.M.A.R.T. marketing goals here.
Those seeking to evoke change need the support of those around them. A husband who is dieting, for instance, wouldn't want his wife to bring home a pizza when he's drinking a protein shake. In the business world, someone trying to change employee morale needs to share their plan with their peers so those colleagues aren't undermining their work. Similarly, someone trying to change a service's feature will need the support of others, like the development team, in order to move forward with the plan.
There's no shame in looking for outside help to make a change. For the person trying to get healthy, a physical trainer might be their ticket to feeling better. For the professional trying to increase productivity, a consultant might need to be hired for his or her unbiased evaluation of what's working and what's not. Plus, there's always a book just a click away that addresses change in a variety of settings.
If one person has a question, goal or problem, then chances are many other people have it too. While it can be uncomfortable to reach out to people whether in person, on the phone, or via email or social, the rewards of combining forces with like-minded people are immense. They may have gone through a similar situation and lived to tell about their successes (and hearing failures is important too). LinkedIn groups are good to join, networking events are good to attend and even Facebook has what one can only imagine thousands and thousands of both open and closed groups. Ask around, the results might be surprising.
Don't Give Up
Sure, it's obvious, but giving up on change is much easier than seeing it through. For those who started S.M.A.R.T., they have milestones set that will allow them to check in and be honest with their progress. Bad habits and attitudes die hard, and ineffective products or services will stay ineffective if people aren't daring enough to set goals, ask for help, get uncomfortable and measure their progress.