Why is change so hard?
As we moved through the end of Winter this year, energy seemed low across the board and whilst we waited with baited breath for Spring to break and invigorate us with the promise of new beginnings this was clearly mixed with the traditional fear of change...
We all have elements of our life that we would love to change; our job, our hair, our weight, our health or our relationships...as a society it would seem that we have an innate desire to strive for something more, different or what we think may be "better". But if we crave this change so much why is it actually so hard?
Change is a process and sometimes a slow one, so this can be off-putting when we are programmed as a species, to seek instant gratification. Small steps will all bring you closer to your ultimate goal and to successfully implement change in our lives we should accept that a change journey is rarely a linear one; if we trip along the way it doesn't always mean that we automatically fall all the way back to where we started from, but missteps can feel off-putting to people as if their efforts were "all for nothing" and the fear of failure can often send us running straight back to the comfort of the "old" patterns.
This cycle can create fear of initiating change
Using the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente describe the change process as having 5 different stages;
1. Precontemplation which is before we are consciously aware that change is desired; to move past this stage we must become aware that there is an "issue" and decide that change is required to achieve a goal.
2. Contemplation is when we have become aware that change is wanted or needed but we are yet to committed to the process; in this stage we are often weighing up whether the work required will be worth the results we might get. This stage can last for days, weeks, years or sometimes we remain here forever
3. Preparation is entered when we actually start planning for change; we may start to research support tools such as therapists, trainers and groups or make plans for the new behaviour.
4. Action is commencement of our plans made in the preparation stage. We are often faced with challenges in this stage and if our planning was unrealistic or to drastic this is where we can, within a few days or weeks, revert back to old unhealthy or unwanted behaviours. Support is integral during this stage.
5 Maintenance is where we head after period of time when our new behaviours have stabilised although it pays to remain vigilant as if we become lapse old subconscious self-sabotaging behviours can creep back in if we don't ensure we keep the attic of our minds clean!
What I love about this model is that it is fluid because movement through the stages is not always a simple straight line forward, so by understanding that change is a process we can begin to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination...otherwise you might miss all the opportunities for fun, growth & learning along the way!