I was thinking about change recently and asking myself why it is that we fear change so much? Why do we get knots in our stomachs just thinking of leaving our comfort zones? As Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do states, people will tell themselves all kinds of stories to resist moving in a different direction. They may say, “I can’t handle change right now,” “This will be too difficult,” “I don’t have the skills needed,” “My situation is fine for the moment, why do I need to change?” and “I’m not good at dealing with change.” If any of these comments ring true for you, chances are, you have struggled (like most of us) with the prospect of change!
The good news is, change does not have to be that daunting when approached properly. Considering this, Morin presents three interesting components related to change. They are: (1) the types of change, (2) the stages of change, and (3) the key strategies to positively cope with change.
Types of Change
It’s important to realize that not all change is the same nor does it require the same amount of planning.
All or Nothing: Having a child, changing jobs, getting married. In other words, once it’s done – it’s done!
Habit: Done methodically a little bit at a time. This requires a certain amount of planning and personal discipline.
Trying Something New: When you want to shake up your routine or add to your skill set.
Behavioural: When you need to or want to change a certain behaviour – be more present at home (and less on technology), or committing to exercising five times a week. Like habits, this one also requires a certain amount of personal discipline.
Emotional: Sometimes, change can be subtle. Emotional change means focusing on thoughts and behaviours that would contribute to your overall well-being.
Cognitive: This change entails altering your thought process/mindset. If you are a negative person, you may want to put some plan into action to correct yourself every time you catch yourself going down a negative spiral.
The Stages of Change
Now that we have identified the six different types of change, let’s take a closer look at the various stages of change. Once again, Morin explains this cycle well. Here’s what she tells us:
Pre-contemplation: This is the initial pre-action phase. At this point, we’re only thinking of the possibility of change.
Contemplation: This is when people start weighing the pros and cons of a possible change.
Preparation: Here, there is more action taken. People start talking to others and planning.
Action: This is where the wheels hit the road. People move, accept new positions, purchase new equipment, make that connection, and affect the change they seek.
Maintenance: This last step is important because it ensures that you stay on course with your progress. Here, you create a plan to actively maintain your new change. Through journaling, taking stock of what is working and what is not, and making the necessary adjustments along the way, you ensure that what you have started will continue until it becomes habitual.
Successful Change Strategies
Lastly, Morin also offers great strategies to embrace chance and to ensure we reap the most rewards for our efforts.
Create a Goal: Here, Morin recommends having a 30-day timeline to allow you to see a small amount of change and feel motivated sooner. Identify one achievable goal and work towards it for the next month.
Establish Behavioural Changes and Anticipate: This is important in helping you achieve your goals. When you adjust your behaviour to meet that new goal, your chances of achieving it will increase dramatically. For example, instead of sitting in front of the TV after dinner, get into the habit of walking for 30 minutes in your neighbourhood. Too cold? Prepare your outdoor clothing ahead of time. In other words, strip away as many hurdles as possible to ensure you will adopt the appropriate habit.
Establish Accountability: Research indicates that when we tell people about our goals, we increase our chance of reaching them. So, tell someone about that special project and go for it!
Monitor your Progress: When something can be measured, it’s easier to see progress and feel motivated. Make sure your goal can be quantified in some form to help you stay on track. Keep track with a daily log or use apps to store your data.
So, there you have it! Change, when approached properly and with the proper tools, doesn’t have to be so scary. In this case, a little knowledge is unquestionably a good thing and will allow you to thrive in your new personal and professional pursuits! So…what are you waiting for? Dive in!
Call to ACTION:
What 1 takeaway will you apply to your life the next time you are faced with change?
I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to post a comment in the reply box below.
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