I spend my time working with individuals, teams, and groups to support them in changing their habits and behaviors.
But that has not always been the case: I spent the first 10 years of my career working in startups and agencies until my back gave out.
I ignored the problem at first because I was busy trying to “change the world” with our revolutionary platform.
Eventually, I couldn’t ignore it anymore and decided to dedicate a bit of time to changing myself as well.
As I did, I realized that changing habits and behaviors is a skill – rather than a talent – that some people possess and some don’t. Through science, we actually know quite a bit about how habits are formed and what’s needed to change them.
After experimenting with various techniques and tools to deal with my back issue and having success with it, I asked myself, “Why aren’t we taught this ‘stuff’?”
It felt so essential to me.
So, I created The 1-Month Habit Experiment to equip individuals with the skill to change.
I noticed how the same techniques that helped me change also applied to teams and companies working to change. Over the next two years, I got to work with organizations like H&M, Otto International, and Deutsche Telekom to help them go through large transformations and support them in changing in their desired direction.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Changing isn’t easy.
But there are things we can do and tools we can use to make the process a whole lot easier. And if you work in an organization trying to become more sustainable, green, and environmentally friendly, here are three things that will help you get started.
Our identity and how we see ourselves dictates our behavior. If you see yourself as a person who’s always late, you’re probably late a lot. If you see yourself as a healthy person, you probably have healthy habits.
Organizations often hope to define themselves through their communications and the values they wrote on their websites. As if it was that easy! Unfortunately, you also have to act accordingly. Saying you value sustainability does not automatically make you sustainable. The reason Patagonia is loved by hikers, environmentalists, and nature lovers alike is because they take consistent action to care for the environment.
I’ve worked at companies where the values we proudly put on our websites weren’t at all reflected in our everyday business. And, slowly but surely, that began to stink. To me, but also the people around me – and the customers would notice, too.
If you as a company want to change, defining the new you you’re going to be is a great first step.
The second step (that many skip) is to develop concrete activities, routines, and habits that are guided by your team’s values and who you wish to be as a team.
It can be anything from how you manage meetings to your hiring process, from how you greet people at the door to where you order your food from.
When you define who it is you want to be, and develop concrete actions, routines, and habits to act that way, you slowly start to believe you are that way. And the more you believe you are something, the more you will act accordingly. That’s why you won’t see Patagonia collaborating with Shell any time soon.
As mentioned above, changing isn’t easy, and there are evolutionary reasons for that. Humans (and organizations) are primed to preserve energy. Changing how you do things will require energy, and the more energy required, the harder it will be.
Therefore, you want to reduce the amount of energy required to make the desired change you want to see. When I work with individuals in The 1-Month Habit Experiment, we take time before we start to implement the change to prepare our environment so it’s easy to do when the time comes.
Want to reduce the amount of bottled water you drink at your company? Prepare the environment so glasses are accessible, get the carafes with lemon and cucumber ready to go, and put the bottled water somewhere a bit hard to get to.
By doing this, you nudge people toward the more sustainable option and make changing easier for your employees.
The way you approach and present your change will impact how people think of it. Is it a rigid goal that everyone needs to work hard to achieve? If they don’t, will there be consequences? Or is it a fun and playful experiment where you test out a few alternatives to how you do things to learn what could work in the future?
Often, people and organizations approach change as a linear thing and plan things out like they know what will happen and, when it doesn't, they get demotivated and shy away.
Instead, if you think of your change as an experiment, you can’t really fail. Only learn. Plus, experimenting is fun and allows people to play and participate.
Here's a great example of how a bit of fun and playfulness encourages people to change their behavior: Watch this.
I hope this helps you as you and your team work to become more sustainable. Or implement any other change you want to make. If you are looking for additional strategies, tools, and support to help your company change and become more sustainable and want to work with us, email us. And if you as an individual would like to join The 1-Month Habit Experiment to build habits to take better care for yourself, write or read more, change the way you eat, start exercising, or something else that’s on your mind, you can learn more about my work here.
Expert Opinion by
We all go through life wanting to change and improve ourselves, but no one ever teaches us how. Yet there's a whole science and art to changing habits and behaviors that, if applied, are successful for most people. That's what made Olof decide to start the "1-Month Habit Experiment," which equips people with the skills needed to change through self-experienced learning. With a background in communication and coaching, he’s worked in corporate change management with companies such as The DO School, Oikocredit, and H&M. He’s a certified ADAPT coach and facilitator that brings people together and creates safe spaces for them to reflect, experiment, and grow.
With a background in communication and coaching, he’s worked in corporate change management with companies such as The DO School, Oikocredit, and H&M. He’s a certified ADAPT coach and facilitator that brings people together and creates safe spaces for them to reflect, experiment, and grow.
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