PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT : Create the change you want

If you want to make changes in your business or in your personal life, you have to think about the change you want in the future, rather than the problem at hand (the past), says Jhanna Culver.
“Neurologically, what you give your attention to, grows. So what your brain focuses on is exactly what will preoccupy your mind. Our default is generally to return to our familiar, deepened pathways. Anything new won’t last long unless you make that your focus.”
Culver’s convinced that looking to the past is unnecessary for otherwise healthy adults to move forward – and it can be destructive.
“If you want to make change, you need to focus on the present and the future. Work out where you want to go and where you are now.”
She says meaningful change comes from within. “I am not the expert in anyone’s life. You have to come up with what works for you. The potential to reach your goals is greater when it comes from you. You have to have the buy-in.”
In her early work as social worker, Culver says she found that change was always under threat with at-risk adults, but that it was easier when they were engaged.
That works for managers and staff too. She says that although managers are seen as the expert within department or team, the theory can still be directly applied to their staff. Get your staff’s buy-in and allow them to identify what they need or want to change. The potential for them to achieve significantly increases.
“In general, the key is to know where you want to go and to be very specific. Change must be measurable: how will you know when you are there? And achievement breeds achievement.”
Culver says the coaching she does is based on the latest neuroscience research and aimed at improving people’s thinking. Although the change created is significant, it can be broken into easy steps to take you where you want to be.
1. Know what you want and be as clear as possible. It may be new area – or rediscovering success you experienced in the past.
2. Define what it is you want. What is ‘a balanced life’ for you? What does ‘successful business’ entail?
3. Get buddy or support person. Use someone you know believes in you, someone with whom you can share your challenges and successes openly. Set up contract with that person identifying what it is you want from them. Be very clear with the contract. It’s easy to set vague goal, but much harder to achieve it. “If your goal is vague, there’s less chance of you reaching your goal – so, the more specific your goal, the greater the chance of achieving it.”
4. Commit to two or three actions with your buddy week. Set timeline and be specific: “I want this achieved within three weeks. Every week, I will do a, b and c.”
5. Act. The key is to be in action and to keep moving forward, even when your old patterns of behaviour come up against you.
6. Make it fun. Look for the joy in working towards achieving your goal or change. This supports your motivation and keeps things light.
7. Reward yourself. You need to have reward in mind when you begin. If you are getting fit, plan to reward yourself after each walk with coffee. If you are setting up new business initiative, take holiday when you reach your goal.



EXPERT PROFILE: Jhanna Culver, newheadspace

Jhanna Culver is change specialist with diverse background in management, movement therapy, psychology, and social work. She says her goal is to help clients make positive and sustainable changes both in their business and personal lives.
Born in Russia, Culver emigrated to Australia at the age of five and grew up in Sydney before spending 15 years studying and working around the world, in the US, the UK, Israel and Bali. Now she runs her coaching business in Aucklland.
Her experience as social worker helped her understand that change for dysfunctional clients needed to be different to that for otherwise healthy adults. She realised that exploring the past does not necessarily bring sustainable, measurable or tangible change.
In her last role as manager of state-of-the-art aged care residential facility, she moved into leadership training and decided to make coaching her career. “I was coming from therapeutic background and what appealed to me with coaching was that it was pragmatic and realistic. Both the client and I could see immediate, tangible and sustainable results. This continues to excite me every day.”
Her business, newheadspace, contracts to businesses and works with individuals on improving patterns of thought and helping effect change. www.newheadspace.com

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