What Does It Take To Change?
What happens if you aren’t satisfied with your life? Maybe you have a history of broken relationships or go-nowhere jobs? Perhaps on the outside everything looks good but you’re lonely and unhappy on the inside? Or you’re overweight but not happy.
There is a process to make these kinds of changes.
1. Resisting change (also known as pre-contemplation)
I do NOT need to change. Others say I do and make suggestions to me, but I adamantly (some might say arrogantly) deny their logic and rationale. I will NOT change; I’m fine.
2. Considering change (aka Contemplation)
Maybe, just maybe there is some little thing I could change. Just saying… ‘maybe’ I might consider it.
3. Planning change (Preparation)
All right, I have a problem and I will change. There I’ve said it and acknowledge it and I’m ready to move forward. I ‘gird my loins’ and get ready to start.
4. Changing behaviour (Action)
I have made the decision and now I tell others what I’m doing. Maybe I share with my spouse or start counseling or throw away all the cookies in my house, but I make a public statement of some sort of my intention. This stage may last up to six months.
5. Continuing change (Maintenance)
Although many people say a new habit takes 21 days to form, they lie. Making major changes takes months to implement successfully and consistently. I have to practice over and over again.
6. Backsliding & beginning all over again (Relapse)
In the first six months of my new behavior, I typically ‘forget’ my decision and ‘slip’. I grab a cigarette or a cookie or a drink. I gossip with a co-worker. Whatever I committed to change. OOPS. I recognize my poor decision, pick myself up, and begin again.
The cycle of starting, relapsing and re-starting may be repetitive. (And frustrating for my family.) But it is normal. If I stay in that cycle, the relapses will fade and the desired behavior becomes normal.