Tips for Making Successful Life Changes
As we enter the second month of the year, now is a good time to take stock of the energy around your New Year’s resolutions. Have you been able to make the changes you intended to make so far this year? Or has your commitment faded in the face of your daily routine? Wherever you are right now with your resolutions or intentions, remember that change takes time, and that even when you have good reasons for change, knowledge does not always translate into action. The challenge to making change is that, although we may know that there are good reasons to change, we also are comfortable maintaining the status quo. This ambivalence makes it difficult to change, until we find our own motivation for change and realize our own self-efficacy in making the change.
Here are some tips for making change in your life:
- Identify the perceived barriers towards making the change. Are any of these barriers things you can change?
- Identify the reasons why you might want to make a change. What benefits do you perceive?
a. On a scale of 0 – 10, how important is this change to you? If you said 8, what made you say 8 instead of 6?
b. on a scale of 0 – 10, how confident are you that you can make this change? If you said 5, what made you say 5 instead of 3?
- Take inspiration from someone else who has made a change you want to make. What has made them successful?
- Make an argument FOR change. We believe what we hear ourselves say. Stop arguing against change, which just reinforces the status quo, and start arguing for change. Instead of talking about what you can’t do, focus on what you can do and why you need to do it.
- Determine what steps you are willing and able to take. Make them concrete and manageable steps that you are confident you can achieve, instead of big leaps that will be too difficult to make.
- Instead of abstract goals, set SMARTS goals (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Timely, Self-determined). For example, an abstract goal would be to do more yoga. A concrete goal might be to take one yoga class every Saturday, or to practice for 15 minutes every morning at home.
- Ask for help from your community so you have social support for the change you wish to make.
- Triggers can provoke change, or can maintain the status quo. Seek situations and settings that make the behavior change the easy choice.
- Recognize that relapses happen. If you anticipate that a relapse may occur, you can develop a plan to overcome the set-back. If a relapse happens, remember that it is temporary, and get back to work.
- Start with one day at a time. Instead of trying to change your behavior forever, start with a set period of time to make it more manageable.
– Rachel de Simone, Yoga Instructor and Student Physical Therapist
Fogg, B.J. (2010) Top 10 Mistakes in Behaviour Change . . . And Some Ways You Can Fix Them, Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/captology/stanford-6401325 (Accessed: January 14, 2018).
Rollnick, S., Miller, W. R., & Butler, C. (2008). Motivational interviewing in health care: Helping patients change behavior. New York: Guilford Press.