So 2017 has ended, was it resolved? By definition, to resolve implies something was needed to be fixed! It is a well-documented fact that most New Year’s resolutions fail, yet some of us still keep making them: you’re not alone. Why do we do this?
The Ancient Babylonians instigated the worldwide traditional resolution as part of their transition from one year to the next; 4000 years on a New Year can bring about the unavoidable quest to stop, start or cut down on something in hope to improve your quality of life for some. Let’s be honest, any sort of change is usually stressful, uncomfortable and perhaps even terrifying. Often we live in automatic, habitual states of comfort, however, this ‘comfort zone’ may be more aptly named our ‘un-comfort zone’.
When making changes, success can be attributed solely to motivations; this is not ‘willpower’, or others cheering you on. This is through constant self-reflection as the process of change gradually unfolds. Self-awareness is key to changing and forming any lasting behaviour.
Having an understanding of the psychology of change will give you the best chance at shaping your behaviours at any time, not just for a new year. Prochaska described 6 stages of change:
1: To be Pre-contemplative you may have limited insight into the need to change. You will have no plan or intention to change. Others may have a difference of opinion on your behaviour and this may cause conflicts at work or with friends. Denial is a relevant feature here and is categorised by a total lack of interest in change.
2: Contemplation brings ambivalence; being pulled strongly in 2 different directions. You are aware of the issues associated with your behaviour and you have given it thought with the potential to change at an unspecified time in the future. ‘I need to give up smoking soon’ or ‘I like the idea of being vegan’. You may desire the change but lack the confidence and commitment to change.
*Between stage 2 and 3 A conscious decision is made. It is here that you will have concluded that the negatives of your behaviour far outweigh the positives and a commitment to change is made. This represents an event, and is the only event of the change process.*
3: Preparation promoting accountability and responsibility for change, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’. Through the preparation stage, you will begin to evaluate and select techniques to develop a plan with specific goals, in a quantifiable time frame with measurable outcomes. You will demonstrate that you are willing to change as you anticipate the benefits of change.
4: Action promotes self-directed behavioural modification. You may notice your efforts now gain new insight and you develop new skills further. You may confide in friends or seek additional support through specialist services. At this stage, you may notice yourself consciously choosing a new path. You will be learning to challenge automatic thinking and turning away from unwanted/old behaviours. This will give a sense of achievement and drive.
5: You have established self-control and new behavioural patterns. Maintenance is with minimal effort. At this stage, you will be aware of, and be alert to high-risk situations where you are likely to re-engage or relapse into old habits. You will have developed an effective action plan that is embedded into your everyday life.
6: Relapse is the 6th stage, however, can occur anywhere and can implicate the cycle in an informative way by consolidating your learning so far to re-enter the cycle at the appropriate stage.
An accomplished change will bring a new identity represented by a new image that is consistent with your desired behaviour and lifestyle. This will increase your confidence as you enjoying self-control and appreciate a healthier and happier life with less conflict and more resolve. Relapse into the former way of life becomes almost unthinkable, however still possible.
The weather there is ‘No need for change’, or ‘I don’t do anything bad enough to stop’ this may just give you a new outlook to your 2018 far beyond a new year fix it.
If you would like further information on breaking habits, and implementing change, contact KLNIK wellness.
Take Care of Yourself and each other J