Change Your Life: part 3: Process of Change

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Six stages of change

Fish change concept

How do we make changes in our lives? What is the process of change? Think  about the last time you made a change, any change at all, it could be the simplest thing  like tidying the house or the biggest thing you've ever done like buying  a house.What was the process for the change? Think about it for a few  minutes.

The process of change

When my family first moved to a new house a few years ago it was a huge  decision. The  first part of the process of buying a house was noticing that a change might  need to occur. You
can't decide to change something unless you think a change needs to occur,  no matter what the reasons are. So you are constantly examining your  life, consciously and unconsciously. We kept on saying that there wasn't  enough room for the four of us in the house anymore this led to us passively  looking for somewhere else to stay.

The next stage is deciding that a change needs to occur. in the example  above where we needed to move house we went from passively looking for house  to actively looking for a new housing. we decided we needed the change.

Business man in front of two roads thinking deciding

The next stage is deciding what to change to. This is where a lot of  people might fall down and a lot of people get stuck in a rut for this very  reason. You know you want to change your job but you don't know  what you want to do or how to do it.

For those of you who get past the second stage the next stage is to actually  believe you can make the change. you can see yourself making the change  and you can see yourself with the new house, the new job, being a non smoker,  being thin you can picture it in your mind.

Again this is another major  stumbling block. We  all hold beliefs in our heads about everything in our lives and often those  beliefs can often conflict with each other, in psychological terms this is  called cognitive  dissonance.

An example of this is the person who smokes, they know  it's bad for their health but they continue to smoke. The reason people  still smoke is because they have not given themselves enough good reasons to  stop smoking and given themselves more good reasons to keep smoking, it's that  simple.

Before I gave up smoking last year ,my reasons for smoking far  outweighed my reasons for not smoking. I enjoyed smoking (yes I did!  for those of you who are saying 'you thought you enjoyed it', I did really  enjoy it), I felt it relaxed me and it did, it gave me time to myself, it was  a way to get a break etc etc. I knew of all the health warnings but the  thing that tipped it for me was power over my own mind. I kept saying  I could give up if i wanted to but I didn't want to.

Tiger in wild winter nature. Amur tiger running in the snow. Action wildlife scene with danger animal. Cold winter in tajga, Russ

Then I asked could  I really give up. so I tried and I couldn't. Then I thought I am  in control here I can do anything I want with my body. So there was a  battle of wills in my head. I digress a little, but you get my point.

Okay you've got past the dissonance stage what now. You have to take  action. You have to take a step toward your desired outcome. again you  have to picture what your outcome is going to be. Takes small steps toward  it. If you want to lose weight you might take the first step to giving  up sweets. You don't give up all the crap at the same time ' small steps  Ellie, small steps…' give up the sweets then once you've mastered that, give  up the cake, once you've mastered that give up the burgers etc. All the  time you picture in your head what you want your outcome to be.

The next step of the process is: Continuation. You go through the cycle  of stages of 4-5 until you reach your desired outcome. When you reach  your desired outcome you have momentum. You have a new belief that you  can change. your new belief spurs you on to change other aspects of your  life that you may want to change and you will have a stronger belief that you can do it.


The stages of change

Life cycle of butterfly


1. Examining – Before you can make a change you need to  recognise the need for change. This happens on a conscious and unconscious  level.

2. Deciding – Once you have recognised the need to change  you decided to actively make a change.

3. Desired outcome – You have to know what your desired outcome is.

4. Belief – When you have decided to change you have to believe that you  can do it and get past conflicting beliefs in your head.

5. Action – You have to take action towards your desired  outcome, I recommend small steps, but do anything to take action.

6. Continuation – You repeat stages 4-5 until you reach your desired outcome.

This process of change occurs in every single aspect of our lives from changing  a job to washing your hands after going to the toilet. we can use this  model to show us exactly where in our lives we are falling down. My biggest  let down was at stages 3 and 4, i knew i had to change some aspect of my  life it was knowing what I wanted and the belief that i could do it that let  me down. Concentrating on these two stages would often lead me to get over  them.

For example I knew I wanted to stop working at BT and after examining my life  I knew I wanted to work with people to be able to make a difference in their  lives but I didn't really have the belief that I could achieve this. Knowing  I was lacking in belief I looked at myself and asked myself what i was good  at, I was good at actively listening,Ii was good at empathizing, I had patience  in abundance, all the things you need to work with people in order to help  them help themselves change their lives.

When you know which part of the process you are stuck on you can work on it  until you get past it.

Exercise to do

Try this exercise just now;

Write down something you want to change in your life.

Find out where you are on the process of change model above.

Work on where you are stuck in the model.

Does it make a difference, let me

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.