“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination” – Jimmy Dean
Towards the end of the year, you may start thinking about change more often. If you are planning to create your new year’s resolution list, these 10 steps may help you to change something about yourself, your behavior, thoughts or emotions.
When the focus is on change, the main goal of my session is to help you to identify and overcome your ambivalence towards change, increase your readiness and clarify your values.
- Explore why you are ambivalent towards change: Hesitation may occur because while a part of you desires stay the same, a part of you wants to change. You may tend to maintain your current status, homeostasis. Therefore, change may be difficult and scary. When you change, you don’t have to turn into a completely different person. You may keep some part of you or a part of your daily routine the same. For example, you want to be more social and perhaps want to spend more time with your friends. You can still have your alone time as a part of your daily routine and find a way to balance your social needs and individual needs in your free time.
Ask yourself: “What are some of the things that I want to continue to have when I change?”
- Understand the source of your motivation to change: Motivation is a driving force that encourages you to change or achieve your goal. A source of your motivation can be external or internal. While the external motivations occur as a result of an outside demand, internal motivation is based on a personal satisfaction or desire. If the source of your motivation is internal, you are more likely to maintain the changes that you will make. Example:
The change you want to make: “Have a better relationship with my husband”
External motivation: “I want to have a better relationship with my husband because my children want us to get along well”
Internal motivation: “I want to have a better relationship with my husband because I want to get along well with him”
- Notice your incremental success: Change is a process and it is assumed that it is developed within 5 stages. The “Stages of Change” are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. Therapy helps you to identify which stage of change you are at and helps you to step up until you achieve the maintenance stage of change.
- Avoid labeling: The way you talk to yourself and others matter. Instead of telling yourself “I am a failure”, tell yourself, “I failed at this task”. See my blog, “You are not your problems?” for more information.
- Gain more confidence to take action: Change talk is a skillset that is based on your desire, ability, reason and need to change. Your belief that you can accomplish if you try, your indication that you see the need to change, your motivating factors in making change all enhance your confidence to take action.
- Build a plan & SMART goal setting: When a goal is “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Achievable”, “Realistic” and “Timely”, it is easier to build a plan around it. Therapy helps you to set SMART goals.
- Name the strengths and positive characteristics you believe you have: I call this step “value clarification”, and a main part of my work to help you to define what is important to you. It is assumed that a value-driven life -a life that you know what you want and why you want it, helps you to achieve a goal-driven life.
8.Don’t target a specific change before exploring your concerns: Therapy addresses your concerns about changing. Imagine you are prescribed to a new medication. I assume you would like to learn the possible side effects before you start using this medication. I suggest you do the same before you start making changes: address your concerns with your therapist.
- Ask for help & identify your support system: Whether having a friend who can listen to your concerns, or an expert to help you in a specific area of your life you may need support to change. Asking for help is more challenging for some individuals than others. If you have difficulty identifying your support system or asking for help, please consult with your therapist.
- Looking forward: I recommend that you answer these two questions before you start making changes:
What might your situation look like after you made changes?
What might your situation look like if no changes are made?
Answering these questions is going to help you to look forward.
If you have difficulty in any of these steps, please consult with your therapist.