(Organizational) Change is Easy. Making it Stick is Hard.

I think I’ve finally found a workout routine that sticks. It took me 15 years to be able to say that.

In those 15 years, I’ve joined and quit five gyms. I started and stopped a regular yoga practice more times than I can count. Months would go by when I didn’t do any kind of exercise. I’m not boasting about my initial failures — maybe I should be? — but instead I’m illustrating that change doesn’t always stick right away.

People say change is hard. I disagree. Change is pretty easy and can happen quickly. You want me to go to a gym today? Sure. (Oh, you want me to go Wednesday too? And Friday? That’s too much.)

The same thing goes for organizational change. Change is the one constant in many modern, fast-paced companies, and this is especially true in the tech world. I’ve never actually done this, but I’d imagine if you asked a tech employee how many changes were implemented in his/her workplace the response would be something like, “Do you mean today?”

(Contrast this with the academic world where change is glacially slow. True story: It took me three years to get the proper approvals to change a departmental website from a seriously outdated format to one that looked like it was created in this millennium.)

Many workers — and entrepreneurs like myself — laugh at the face of change. We deal with it every day. What we want to see is lasting change. Change that sticks. That’s when you know you have it right.

Implementing the elements that support lasting change is hard. There are no easy fixes. You can’t say, “my new year’s resolution is to create a better company culture,” follow three simple steps, and voilà, it’s done.

I don’t have a magic formula for implementing lasting change but I do know a key ingredient: TIME

It takes time. If you truly embrace this, you’ve won half the battle. If, 15 years ago after quitting my first gym, I succumbed to defeat, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But I didn’t. Despite the frustration, I knew I had to give it time.

Of course, time isn’t the only necessary ingredient. You also need healthy doses of skill, knowledge, perseverance, etc. (I told you I wan’t going to give you a magic formula.)

But time is key. So key, in fact, that very often the best thing to do is wait. Pausing is not only an option, but it can be essential.

Here’s to a healthy, happy New Year full of positive changes (some that stick), and meaningful pauses.

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