Making A Change Work
As the New Year approaches some of you may already be considering how you would like 2012 to turn out, and the changes you would like to introduce. Good for you!
The thinking behind any change is most often split into two camps – the why and the why not. So by taking time to consider these arguments before you decide the how, when, where and with whom, you are increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.
The frustration of being in two minds can sometimes put you off making an effort, as it’s proof that ‘I don’t really mean it’ or that ‘I’m no good at this sort of thing’. What is really important to know, however, is that this ‘will I, won’t I?’ thinking is called ambivalence. Ambivalence is perfectly normal and indeed a healthy part of behaviour change. Essentially what your mind is endeavouring to do is to help you make the right decision about this change in the context of everything else that is going on for you. The more you can understand these points of confusion the better your decision making is likely to be. So, although this may sound counter-intuitive, take some time to consider the benefits of staying the same. Notice what you like about the behaviour, and look at it from a couple of angles. If you are wanting to get fitter and going to the gym is on your list of changes, then staying the same will mean not having to get up early or to rearrange your days, or have the kids looked after … Running counter to this is the benefit of the change – feeling fitter, a more attractive figure, a general sense of well-being, or the knowledge that you are doing something for yourself… The number of items on each side of the argument does not predict the level of influence on your decision as each item will be weighted differently. One reason to change may outweigh four or five reasons to stay the same.
It is important that you take some time to ensure you have an overview of your thinking. Consider what you will do next to move the process forward for yourself. Consider only the next step, rather than trying to identify and resolve all the steps necessary. Small steps leading to small successes are directly correlated to positive outcomes. So buying trainers, talking to my partner/parents/friends about the support I need, ringing the gym to find out about times of classes, are all examples of steps along the way to making progress.
Often, individuals only focus on why they need to change. They become frustrated with themselves when the process proves to be more difficult than anticipated, resulting in decreasing levels of motivation and increasing negativity. Seeing both sides of the argument before setting off on the journey bolsters an individual’s resilience and improves success as challenges that arise are often anticipated, recognised and responded to with improved effectiveness than might otherwise be the case.
As you prepare for your new year’s resolution take into account that change is a process that begins with thinking and understanding, moving through experimentation, learning and adaptation to arrive at resolution. Changing your mind is part of moving forward and is to be expected, so when at first you don’t succeed, (don’t be surprised), and try, try again.