Are You Ready? Finding Your WHY for Habit Change

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In the previous post, I outlined all of the reasons why New Year's Health Resolutions (and most habit changes) fail.

In this post, I'll delve into further details around the FIRST reason why they fail: 

1 - You weren't ready to make a change



Before you embark on any endeavour to change your habits, you first have to make sure you're actually ready to make a change.

If you commit to making a change that, in reality, you aren't yet ready to make, you'll fail for sure.

Why is that?

Because change is challenging and it's usually not pretty; more often than not sweat and tears are involved. There will be challenging moments when you just plain don't feel like it.

You need to make sure you're actually ready, so that when those hard days come along, your commitment to the change pulls you through.

How do you know when you're ready?

When you've identified a ROCK-SOLID WHY - a reason that you MUST make this change.

He who has a WHY to live for can bear almost any HOW. 
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Your WHY is your anchor. 

Once you have a WHY, you're ready to make your way through the change process.

According to PUBMED, there are six steps in making health behaviour changes:

1. Pre-contemplation: You're unaware there's a problem, and therefore aren't even thinking about making a change.

2. Contemplation: You're aware there's a problem, and that maybe you should do something about it.

3. Preparation: You start planning the change; you collect information and identify potential obstacles and what you'll do about them.

4. Action: You begin implementing the new behaviour.

5. Maintenance: You continue implementing the new behaviour.

6. Termination: The new behaviour no longer requires effort to implement because it's become a habit.

I generally agree with this model except that one thing is missing between Steps 4 & 5 above - RELAPSE.

It's normal to RELAPSE in the process of changing your habits because change is rarely so linear as to allow for perfect adherence. You will have off days and moments when your commitment waivers.

In those moments, you need to re-visit your WHY - the reason you decided to make the change in the first place.

Your WHY is what will allow you to persist when it gets hard or when you just plain don't feel like it.

If I were to re-write the model of change, it would look like this:

4. Action: You begin implementing the new behaviour

5. Relapse: You have one or more off days when you fail to implement the new behaviour.

6. Recommitment: You review your WHY - the reason you decided to make the change - and re-commit to your goal.

7. Action: You begin again to implement the new behaviour

8. Maintenance: You continue implementing the new behaviour.

9. Termination: The new behaviour no longer requires effort to implement because it's become a habit.

It's common to cycle through step 4 / 5 / 6 again and again; 

Action / Relapse / Recommitment / Action...etc.

That's why you need a WHY; because unless you have a very strong reason to help you stay committed when the going gets tough, you will end up quitting.



SUMMARY: Before implementing any habit change, make sure you're truly ready.

You know you're ready when you have a ROCK-SOLID WHY.

If you don't have a why, then a New Year's resolution will do more harm than good. 

Now, assess where you're at: are you really ready?



In the next post, I'll delve into further details around the SECOND reason why New Year's Health Resolutions (and most habit changes) fail:

2 - Your goals were externally motivated versus internally motivated.

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