4 Steps to Authentic Behavior Change

January 7, 2020 Terry Watkins

A new year is upon us. For many people, this time of year represents “out with the old, in with the new”—a new start or a new opportunity. I believe right now is the best time for self-reflection toward creating goals and identifying behaviors you need to become the person you want to be in 2020!

Imagine your desired future self. Who is the person you want to be? Is it someone who exudes executive presence, communicates eloquently, is a subject matter expert, is outgoing, or has confidence? Think big! Don’t limit yourself!

Next, what are the qualities you need to become this person? For example, would you like to be seen as charismatic, direct, self-aware, self-assured, sociable, empathetic, sincere, determined? It may help to think of the behaviors and qualities of a person you admire. Identify one or two behaviors to focus on to move toward your authentic future self.

Being your authentic self means being genuine and real. The way someone chooses to express confidence may be interpreted by others as cocky, fake, or power hungry. Be sure you are authentic and that you exhibit behaviors that complement your style. Let me share a story to help illustrate this point.

As an introvert, my natural tendency is to be a quiet observer and very guarded with what I say during a conversation. My goal is to be more outspoken and social. I once received feedback from team members who felt I was disengaged at times and who wanted me to share my opinions more often. I realized I was slow to respond and sometimes missed the opportunity to respond, which led to their perception that I was not engaged. I decided to make a change—and, most important, to do it in a way that was consistent with who I am.

I made an agreement with myself that I would start sharing my thoughts early in discussions, even if I did not have all the details or the time to process input from others before I stated my opinion. I gave myself permission to be vulnerable and uncomfortable with being more outgoing and outspoken.

Since then, I have been intentional with initiating conversations in social settings and speaking up during meetings and in group settings. I share my thoughts when appropriate, but I still engage through listening and processing what others say before I give my opinion.

Fast forward to today. During a large gathering of family and friends over the holidays, I was part of a discussion about the differences between introverts and extroverts, and being reserved versus outgoing. I stated I am an introvert, reserved, an observer, and not very comfortable in large settings. I was surprised to hear many state they disagreed with me. They gave me examples of when I was outgoing, displaying behaviors of an extrovert and a “social butterfly.” Looking back, I was happy I had accomplished an authentic behavior change, becoming more outspoken and social in a way that was still me.

How about you? Are you ready for a genuine change? Here are four steps to authentically change a behavior:

  • Identify a behavior you want to change, such as shifting from timid to confident.
  • Link the behavior to your values to be authentic. For example, being confident helps build positive relationships.
  • Visualize the effectiveness of the behavior—a situation where you are confident and receive positive feedback from others.
  • Create a plan of action. For example, be prepared for meetings, practice positive self-talk, learn presentation skills, etc.

It takes time, focus, and determination to change a behavior. But through self-awareness and being intentional with your actions, it can be done!

About the Author


Terry Watkins is a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.

About the Author

Terry Watkins

Terry Watkins is a Senior Coach for Blanchard®. She is a frequent contributor to Blanchard’s LeaderChat blog. Terry received her Certified Professional Career Coach certification from The Coaches Training Institute and her MBA with an emphasis in Leadership from Grand Canyon University.

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