The Season of Change… Hopefully!

The Season of Change… Hopefully!

Happy New Year! I hope that 2011 is a great year for you and your family. The New Year is the time that many make resolutions to do better, live better, be healthier and so forth. I’m not here to tell you what resolution you should make or even that you should make one but I have some thoughts on how you might be more successful at sustaining any you have.

In my line of work as a therapist I know that people can and do change but I also know from working with people every day that changing and making a change stick is very, very difficult. The most common pattern is changing a behavior for a few days or weeks and then reverting back to old, more familiar patterns. This simple change of behavior is called a first order change in change theory (yes, there is such a thing as change theory!). It’s a fine start but as noted, after the pressure or motivation is off, there is a tendency to revert.

There is another level of change that has an increased likelihood of being sustainable and that is a second order change. A second order change is not a change of behavior but rather a change in the rules that govern the behavior. By rules, I mean the beliefs or values that are kind of guiding principles of your life. The easiest way I can demonstrate this is to use something that is common to many of your belief systems. If you believe in loving your fellow man, then you don’t have to be told not steal from your neighbor. This behavior – not stealing – comes out of who you are and what you believe rather than just a behavior you want to exhibit.

So your goal right now is to examine your values and beliefs and develop some that will support what you want to do – values about wellness, a healthy lifestyle, longevity to enjoy your grandchildren, whatever – and spend some time thinking about and meditating on them. This type of mindset will go a long way toward supporting you doing and more importantly, continuing to do what you want.