For most people, the fact that you are here reading this information is a sign that you are ready for big changes in your life. You may have been thinking about this for a while. You might also have a sense that this isn’t going to be easy and that making lasting changes can be a struggle.
At the same time, it might feel like things are a struggle already, and it’s time for things to change as soon as possible. There can be a real sense of ‘c’mon, I’m ready, let’s get on with it!’
Keep it real
It’s important to try and stay realistic about how much can change, and how quickly. Often it is best to make changes in your life one step at a time. Trying to work it all out at once can become overwhelming and frustrating. It can feel like everything in your life is beyond your control.
At times like this it can be helpful to try and focus on something you can control in the here and now — it might be your breathing, or the tenseness of your muscles. You might then move on to what food you are going to eat tonight, or what you’ll work on first tomorrow. These might seem like small decisions, but they are important.
In the bigger picture, making change happen over time requires focus, effort and repetition.
Making change happen
Change rarely occurs in a neatly staged or organised way. Making changes to address unhelpful habits or to develop more useful patterns of behaviour requires quite a bit of commitment and discipline.
Below is a basic map to help track where you are in terms of making change. Before making any decisions to change, most people go through the following journey.
1) I don’t know (or want to know!)
You don’t see a problem or a need to change. The efforts of other people to convince you that there is a need for change are generally ineffective. Nothing changes.
2) I’m thinking about it.
You see that there’s a problem. You want to get some control over it, but maybe you’re still evaluating the pros and cons of changing. Others hear you talking about problem/s and options.
3) I want to, I’m getting ready.
You are ready to change and want to make things happen. Your start clarifying what the change will look like, and planning your first steps. Others can help through encouraging you and strengthening your motivation.
4) I’m doing it.
You’re taking active steps to modify your behaviour and/or your environment, in your own unique way. Others can help by noticing positive changes and giving feedback.
5) I’m staying on track.
Change has been made and maintained for a few months. Although, there are occasional ‘bumps’ in the road, you refuse to be derailed. You stay on track by reflecting on what’s happening and adjusting your responses.
When seeking to make change, remember that SAFETY is a foundation stone of the solid base you’re working from. Make sure it’s always at the forefront of your mind, both for yourself and for the wellbeing of those close to you.