The other day I ended a leadership training session with this quote and a personal example so fitting that I decided to share it here as well.

About a year ago, I wrote an article on the power of commitment in goal setting. I used the very same personal example I’ll use today: my running.

It has been my goal to run 50 km each month for the past two years. In my article a year ago, I described how I came under every month until I committed publicly to run those 50 km. I did it that month, because of that extra accountability piece. I did it in October. And then again I didn’t in November, December or January. I wrote in that article (quote): Interestingly, my pattern of working toward something hasn’t changed, even when the goal was set. But the outcome has changed.

Little did I know that the outcome has changed for one month only.  I haven’t achieved lasting change. The reason why I haven’t achieved lasting change is because I was completely focused on the goal. I still worked using my typical behaviors and patterns to achieve the result and later couldn’t replicate it.

It was only once I decided to focus on change that the results followed consistently. I set out to run 5 km every second day. I made a point to concentrate on just that, nothing else. No counting was necessary. I had to be up early every second day and go for that run. It was a lot harder than focusing on the result. I couldn’t procrastinate anymore.  It meant I had to change my pattern, my habits, I had to get out of my comfort zone and run even when I didn’t feel like it. I totally focused on the process. And trust me,  more than once I almost quit, because it was really hard. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t what running was supposed to be for me. I was resisting it, hating it at times. Only the vision and focus on those small steps kept me going.

And I managed to change the pattern! I have achieved lasting change. For the past six months, I consistently average over 60 km each month without necessarily reminding myself of the goal. I have different habits now, so it’s part of who I am and what I do. The process was painful, yes, change is a painful process, but it was the only way to achieve what I wanted.

If you want to change something, focusing on results simply doesn’t work. It may produce them occasionally, but you won’t change. Focusing on the very process of change works.  Concentrating on the next small step works. Most importantly, changing the very behaviors and habits that keep you in that comfortable place works.

If you focus on results, you’ll never change. If you focus on change, you’ll get results. (Jack Dixon)