This post is for those of us who want to change something in our lives. Maybe you want to improve your marriage or relationships with your kids. Perhaps you want to do better at your job, or find a job that is a better fit for your gifts and talents. Maybe you want to stop an addiction such as drinking too much or smoking.
I have been working on a model that focuses on 3 steps for making a successful change. The model is easy to remember, because each step starts with the letter ‘A.’
- The first step is awareness. You can’t change what you aren’t aware of. For example, if you don’t recognize when you bite your nails, it’s going to be pretty hard to stop. This goes for anything you are trying to change. You need to recognize each time the thing you are trying to change happens. Also, it can be helpful to be aware of what happens right before the thing you are trying to change happens. For example, if you are struggling with drinking too much, it can be important to realize what happens right before you drink too much. Maybe your drinking follows an argument with your spouse. Getting awareness of these precursors is important.
- The second step is acknowledgement. For any successful change effort to happen, you have to acknowledge that you are responsible for your actions and behaviors in this area. For example, if you want to eat healthier, but you blame your bad eating habits on the fact that there is a McDonald’s right by your work, you are unlikely to be successful in your change effort. If the cause of the problem is outside of yourself, if it isn’t your fault, then you’re screwed, because you are at the mercy of whatever it is that is causing the problem. On the other hand, if you acknowledge your part, if you take responsibility, if it is your fault, that’s actually a good thing. If you are the cause of your problem, then you can choose to do something differently and make a change.
- The third step is action. After awareness and acknowledgement, you actually have to do something differently. You need to make a change, get a new experience, and try out something different. At first, this is going to feel strange and difficult. That’s okay. Use the 5 S’s for behavior change. Adjust the surroundings. Start small. Be specific. Schedule it in. Find a support team.
Discussion: What is one thing in your life that you are trying to change? Which ‘A’ do you struggle with the most?