I’m not one for New Years resolutions. In most part it’s because I don’t like starting my new year feeling like a failure.

Because the reality is I am almost certain to break them. With that said this time of year naturally prompts us to consider things that we would like to start, stop or change. 

Amongst other things I made the decision that in 2020 it was time for my belt to go…

That means nothing to you – but if you saw the belt you would realise why it absolutely needed to go. 

It’s old, worn and from one quick look you can tell it has carried the burden of holding my pants up for far too long. The buckle is also made from a cheap metal that reacts harshly with my skin, so I’m regularly checking to make sure it isn’t making contact.

The belt is old and worn. Unfortunately this also makes it really comfortable and familiar, which makes this change really difficult. At the start of the year I purchased a new belt. It’s classy, the buckle is shiny and best of all it doesn’t irritate my skin. And yet, despite having this brand new belt, I found myself regularly opting for the old faithful ‘skin irritator’


“The desire for change is usually low when the comfort of familiarity is high.”

In my book ‘Lead The Room’ I discuss five principles for communicating a message that results in real change. The fifth principle is ‘The Principle of Action’. The big idea from that chapter is simple – If you want people to do something with what you’ve told them, you need to make their next step accessible. 

Whether you’re delivering a presentation, implementing change or building your personal habits for 2020 – if you want change to happen you need to make that change as accessible as possible. 

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In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about ‘The Law of Least Effort’. That as humans – when faced with two similar options – we naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.

What does that look like in a presentation? Here’s three questions I encourage people to answer before they finish speaking: 

1. What do I want people to remember? (Confirmation of your message) 

2. What would it look like if they did what I am asking? (Aspiration for the future) 

But most importantly the third question you need to be able to answer is:

3. What can they do right now to get started? (Application for the present)

I’m now in the habit of wearing my new belt. And despite the initial challenge, the change wasn’t as hard as I thought. All I had to do was remove the friction and make it accessible. I decided to throw out the old belt, which completely removed the friction of having to choose. 

Next time you’re going after change, ask yourself what you can do to make that change as easy and as accessible as possible for people.

Vision for the future is important, but it should always be combined with action in the present. Make it easy for people to take that next step and you’ll be surprised how many actually do.