Understanding Change

Yes I have to admit to telling the coaching joke to someone at the open house last week….

Q. How many Coaches does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Only one, but it really has to want to change!

Yeah, I know it is kinda groan worthy.. but the notion of ‘really wanting to change’ really interests me.

I often overhear people ‘complaining’ or ‘wishing’ for change only to see them behave in the exact same way not committing to changing at all; it seems to be struggle for so many of us to change.

I think we use the word change a lot and during the Presidential campaign we were positively bombarded with the concept yet maybe like many words that you say over and over without action it loses its meaning.

If we take a look at the humble dictionary we are offered many viable choices and options to effect change; it tells us that change is “the act or instance of making or becoming different, the substitution of one thing for another, an alteration or modification, a new or refreshingly different experience” … so why don’t we all just become different, substitute, alter, modify or seek out something new until the thing that isn’t working for us does change?

Change itself is only as hard as we make it and it is our readiness to change that is key here. There are several theories about our readiness to change but the one I am going to share was developed by Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross who believe that there are FIVE Stages of Change:

1. Precontemplation
This is when you are unaware of the problem or the need to change. Consequently, no action to change will even be contemplated.

2. Contemplation
This is when you are aware and are thinking about changing a behavior but have not taken any action to do so. For example you might know that exercise is a good way to manage stress and are thinking about starting an exercise program but not soon.

3. Decision/Determination
You actually start planning to change behavior. For example you may start to research gyms and classes in your area and make contact to obtain pricing.

4. Action
You implement! For example you may begin to work out or attend a yoga class.

5. Maintenance
You continue the change in behavior over time. For example you exercise throughout the year.

Now I see folk flip flop throughout these stages so I don’t believe that the stages always show up in a linear fashion. I sometimes see my clients gain awareness and move from 1.Pre Contemplation to 2.Contemplation and make it to 3.Decision/Determination only to return to 2.Contemplation for a little while before they go directly to 4. Action. I believe this happens when the benefits of change haven’t truly been appreciated, it is then very easy for your self defeating Gremlin to pop up and turn you around.

So if you find that you are bored swimming around in that pool of Contemplation and have the urge and readiness for change start to really visualize what the benefits of change are for you, brainstorm a bunch of ideas whether they be based in substitution, alteration, modification or something entirely new then choose one or two to commit to. Continue to imagine, see and feel the benefits of change and you will be at 3.Decision/Determination and moving toward 4. Action before you know it.

Recognizing at which stage of change you are located will help you strategize. Actually even just recognizing that there is a path to change is helpful!!

What would you really like to change this week?

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A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

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