07 Jun Making Lifestyle Changes Stick
We all have decided at one point or another that we needed to change something about the way we live. Maybe we made a New Year’s resolution once or twice but never bothered again because they didn’t work out. Or, maybe we have tried dieting in the past with varying degrees of success. There are many reasons why people want to make changes but find actually sticking with the changes….well, a challenge. When it comes to the science of change, there are many theories that are used to understand reasons why people make change and how change works.
The “Stages of Change Theory”, as the name suggests, says that there are several stages that a person goes through before experiencing long-term, sustainable change called “Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation for action, Action and Maintenance”. This is basically your fail-to- plan, plan- to- fail theory.
Then there is the “Social Learning Theory” which says that behaviour change comes from observing and fitting in with what is in our environment. An example of social learning is if a person is generally surrounded by healthy eaters, they will naturally start to gravitate toward healthier eating themselves. In this case, the change is more organic and rather naturally occurs. Wouldn’t be nice if it were always that easy?
There are a number of other theories and factors that also influence how easy or hard a person comes by change including their own level of self-empowerment, how strongly they believe in themselves, and their external circumstances, what else is going on in a person’s life to help or hinder change. Even a person’s “Learning History”, meaning what they have learned about themselves in similar situations will impact how they go forward and make change in the future.
All of these things play some sort of role in how easy or difficult it is for someone to change habits in their life. Most times, it is a combination of many of these factors, some stronger than others. So, if we want to change behaviours that have been part of our life for a long time, we have to consider at how we think about ourselves, what we have learned about our own ability to change, and how we actually go about making change.
Too often we skip these first steps and jump right into the action part. Making a goal and getting motivated to make changes can be the easy part but laying the foundation with knowledge and a plan is the key for long-term, sustainable change. If that part sounds hard, or possibly even emotionally painful, there are people who can help you with this. Don’t feel like you have to tackle change on your own. Some of the most successful change plans are the ones that were designed with the help and support of others. Our thoughts about ourselves are very strong so it is important to take the time to care for our mind first so we can care for our body and achieve the changes we have always wanted.