Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Before diving into and learning about how and why to modify different lifestyle factors that impact health and wellness, let's address the topic of change first -- because understanding change is important to implementing it.
We all know change is a process. It’s never linear (wouldn’t that be nice?), and it takes time, effort, and whole lot of persistence. The thing about change is that naturally, we resist it. We like the comfort in the routines we currently hold. Sometimes the habits we have are so practiced and automatic that the effort required to overcome them is our biggest barrier. The good news is, people do change all the time, so if there’s been something you’ve been thinking about that will better you in some way or another, know that you can do it, too -- and that it can be so worth it.
Are You Ready for Change?
When it comes to behavior change, you first have to determine if you are even ready for change. Have you identified a problem? Do you want to do something about it, or are you content as is? These are questions to consider as you determine your readiness for change.
If you decide you are ready for change -- and I mean actually ready (you have weighed the pros and cons, you have a why to change, and you have devised some sort of plan to get started) -- then you must also believe you are capable of it (...you are!). BUT (there’s always a but…) you must also understand that unless you are superhuman, it is never a perfect path. Set yourself up with realistic expectations to set yourself up for real success. Know that there will be ups and downs, achievements of incredible milestones and setbacks sometimes so discouraging that they leave you feeling unsure of your ability to overcome them. But like I said, change is a process -- and if you mapped it out, you would realize how much the process can take you in all kinds of unpredictable directions.
There may be times you may take 10 steps forward and 11 steps back. So what does that mean? You then take 12 more steps forward. We all have those moments when we can’t resist that urge to grab that cookie (or three), or we feel too exhausted to make it to the gym, but just because you mess up once or twice, or even a few more times than that, it doesn’t mean you’re failing. You only fail when you quit. You always have the ability to reassess where you are at, in any given moment, and move forward from there. Just start somewhere, wherever that may be, and always keep your why in mind when you face obstacles and slowdowns. What is the reason you wanted change in the first place?
Change is all about the continuous gains, small or large. Once you start doing, you must continue doing to make long-term forward progress and maintain permanent change. One of my professors once put it this way: behavior change is is like brushing your teeth -- you continue to do it every day. Eventually, it becomes a habit.
What is a habit you are thinking about or actively trying to change? Comment below!
Check out my resource on The Stages of Change.
Disclaimer: This website is intended as an informational resource from the perspective of an occupational therapist and should not take the place of professional medical advice.