It is that time of year again, where we set goals for the new year. Making a commitment to improve your health or life is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Thinking of our new goals is often exciting. "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get into better shape" sound great on paper, but the steps to get there are what we really need to be excited about.
Take a minute to think about your New Year's resolutions. Now, think about the actions required to get there. Do you still feel excited ,or does the thought of changing your eating (or other) habits sound dreadful?
This is how we get stuck: When we step into the process thinking it is something we have to do rather than something we want to do, we most often fail. We naturally resist things we have to do and look forward to the things we want to do.
The change process is tricky that way. We want the end result, but we are very comfortable with our current habits; changing them is stepping out of our comfort zone. We need to find a way to make it easier to step out of our comfort zone and still feel excited and positive. Peter Senge, author of The 5th Discipline, says that when we begin the change process, our minds want nothing more than to pull us back to what's comfortab -- our old habits. When we know this, we can develop strategies to keep moving forward when we have setbacks.
There are different stages of change. Once you know where you are, you can take the right steps to move forward. The Transtheoretical Model of change, or TTM, describes five different stages of change:
Precontemplation is the first stage, where a person has no intention of making any change. Individuals at this stage are unaware that they have a problem. This may be a situation where your family or doctor is urging you to make some sort of change but you don't see it as important. An example may be that your physician may tell you to lose weight because you have risk factors for type two diabetes. You may take that information in, but it isn't meaningful enough to want to make changes.
Action Steps: During this time, it is good to ask questions of the people who want you to make changes. Ask yourself, "Why do others want me to make this change? How will I know it is the right time for me?"
Contemplation is the next stage, where people are aware of an issue they would like to change but haven't made a commitment to take action. An example would be that a person knows they need to lose weight, but feel they are too busy or don't have time to deal with it right now.