Have you ever tried to change something about yourself and just couldn’t do it? Maybe you tried to quit smoking, lose weight or snuff out procrastination. Perhaps, you wanted to get fit, be punctual, or cut out junk food. What was behind the real reason you couldn’t pull it off? You never reached the “transcendence stage” of change. That is to say, there was never a shift in consciousness where the new behavior became a part of you. How can you embrace and understand real change in order to become the truly fabulous person you wish to be?
Change happens over time and in stages. It is like a dance where you move forward (and backward) at your own pace. It all starts with pre-contemplation. At this point, there is no real acknowledgment that a problem behavior exists. For instance, you may comment to a colleague while eating a potato chip that stress at work is causing you to gain weight.
When you find yourself shopping for “bigger” underwear, you realize the situation. Now, you can move into the second stage, contemplation. You go to the grocery store intent on stocking up on fresh vegetables but, turning the corner to the chip aisle, it’s all over. A little voice says that tomorrow’s work schedule is taxed to the max. You add some comfort foods to your cart. You deserve to feel better, right?
Guess what? You haven’t failed. You are simply in a tug of war with yourself that is necessary before moving on to the next phase which is preparation. This very important third step is where you start to investigate different ways to manage stress or buy a book with healthy snack ideas. You start thinking about and desiring to go further maybe trying a weight loss program or a dance fitness class. You are now ready for change.This desire is critical to move you into the next stage which is ACTION.
At this point, a savvy girl will call a board meeting to fire the Chairman of the Board, also known as the other “you” who encouraged you to feel better by eating comfort food to de-stress. Meet “Miss Self-Sabotage” and be sure to call her by her name when you lay down the law. Miss SS is the voice that tells you that change is too hard, that you’re too old or too young, or not smart enough. In the action stage you now have the awareness and energy to morph into a chameleon. This is the new fired-up you — the girl that is free from fear and actively engaged in the next steps for transformation.
The action stage includes setting goals. Using S.M.A.R.T Goals, you will set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. The clearer your goals, the more likely you will succeed. As you conquer the little things and inner confidence grows, you can take on bigger challenges.
Once you’ve reached a goal you have also reached the maintenance stage. Here you are maintaining the behavior that you desire. Success! But, wait, there’s one more process that you must conquer and that is called “relapse.” This is where the chameleon returns, briefly, to older behavior. Don’t feel guilty. Allow yourself to be in the “no-shame zone” because, after all, you’re a human being. You can still be reaching your goals and have a relapse. Reset your compass and get right back on track again. You are a successful work in progress!
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