Making more productive changes.

Portrait Of Girl PoutingDo you have great ideas for self-made changes that seem like they should work but don’t when you try them?  Are you puzzled by resistance you have to your own choices?

The most difficult part of change management is resistance to change.  It applies to your own personal choices of performance and productivity tools as well.

Many years ago, I developed a system for myself I called “pagers,” which were one page writing forms.  The idea was to write a simple one-page article, essay, letter or other document.

A pager document could stand on its own or be combined with other pagers to make a larger document.  Thus, I’d be able to write a page per day on any project and make daily progress toward a larger goal.  Or I would have something new each day to publish.  Maybe, both.

Essentially, I designed a series of format templates to allow me to “fill in the blanks.”  So, I could get a clearer focus, a sort of outline without having to outline.  I expected it to help me get my work done faster.

I tried using it for a while and then abandoned it.

Why abandon a well-worked out system?

Instead of freeing me to create quickly, giving me a delimited structure for my ideas, it annoyed me.  I found it quite like wearing a pair of boots that were too small.  I started finding more ways to avoid writing.

I thought I created a bad system.  Or that my new productivity tool was flawed.

I was foolish.

There was nothing wrong with the system.  It was a good system that provided me with some of the best writing tools available: templates. But it also hooked the resistance of my “inner child” the same way other rules and limitations do.  Not to mention the sense of having been given an “order” to write a certain amount daily.

Do you resist your own systems as if you have the terrible twos?

There is a time in children’s lives called “the terrible twos.”  As you can guess, it happens at around two years of age. It’s a time of tantrums, disobedience and resistance to structure.

Sometimes, a kid seems to have learned only one word — “No!” — and uses it for almost everything, including things he wants and likes. Fortunately for most parents, most kids with the twos are less intense than the ones we end up calling “brats” for the rest of their childhood.

Yet, the “terrible twos” make sense.  We’re just getting big enough and in enough control of our bodies that we can actually do something.  We’re full of energy.  We want to learn new things.  Have new experiences.  Satisfy our curiosities.

It’s bad enough that we’re frustrated by the things we still don’t have the ability to do. But all the grown-ups keep telling us is that we can’t do this, that or the other thing.  They seem to just want us to sit somewhere and be quiet.  Every other word out of their mouths seems to be “No!”  We are not allowed to do anything.

There are rules for everything.  Rules that leave us frustrated and angry. Especially since we don’t yet have the language skills to explain what we want or understand explanations of why we can’t have our way.  So we rebel.

And most of us rebel against restrictions for the rest of our lives.  Even if we don’t have sitting-on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming tantrums. (Although if you watch the way our politicians relate to one another, you might conclude we do still have tantrums.)

We rebel against our own rules and restrictions.  Including the good, helpful ones.

Choose systems and methods that work naturally with you.

No matter how well a system, tool or technique works, it doesn’t work if it hooks your resistance. If you need to make a change or do something new, you must choose a method of change that you won’t resist using.

What kind of change do you resist?  What do you adopt readily?  Ask yourself those questions before trying to make a choice of method.

How you make changes is as important as what you change.