For decades, organizations and individuals spent most of their energy attempting to continuously improve their performance. Until the advent of Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Psychology, the process often used to bring about these improvements was to focus on what we want less of.
Here’s what we learned after years of practicing this methodology—when we focus on negative things in our lives, we tend to feel de-energized, uninspired and less motivated to bring about the changes we need. However, when we focus on what we want more of, our energy expands because our interest, ingenuity and creativity are activated. This simple reframe of one’s focus can profoundly transform both individuals and organizations in directions that enable them to “show up” at their best on a daily basis. And isn’t that what we all hope for when considering change?
If you are one of those people (probably the majority) who can more easily identify what you want less of, start with what you know best. Then, simply reframe the negative into its positive as I have illustrated below.
|What I Want Less Of:
Debt and financial stress
Self-doubt and lack of confidence
Body fat around my waist
|What I Want More Of:
Financial stability and an annual revenue of $90,000/yr
Know who I am and what are my strengths
Healthy, strong physique
Because we are complex organisms, use a framework that allows you to consider your whole being—i.e., SPICE—spiritual, physical, intellectual, communal (relationships) and emotional. Under each of these five categories, list one thing you want less of and then reframe the negative into its positive counterpart.
|What I Want Less Of:||What I Want More Of:|
Confusion and uncertainty about life, meaning and purpose
Certainty and contentment (inner peace) about why I am here and what contribution I want to make
Now that you have identified five things in your life that you want more of, what process will you use to stay focused on these positive intentions? New changes in one’s life require new processes or ways of being in the world. For instance, if “know who I am and what my strengths are” is what you want more of, then what new process can you enact in your life to bring this about?
A process I use to grow my self-awareness is a daily meditation practice. Another process I use to maintain a strong, healthy physique is to jog three times weekly and to take a yoga class on the remaining days. Each of these transformation processes is itemized in my Google calendar along with all my other important daily events. In this way, I structure my day-to-day life to include healthy opportunities for my whole being. Overtime, these step-by-step processes become healthy living practices.
What new processes can you enact today?
For more on process development and transformation, click here.