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Implementing Personal Change

Phases of Change

From a practical perspective, implementing personal change can be liberating. The paradox is that effecting personal change can be difficult. Given the similarity between change and inspiration I thought it was useful to share an inspiring leader’s reflection on change and inspiration.

Cliff, an Olympic Coach, said, “to generate change from within, people must answer positively to these two questions:‘Am I capable of achieving change?’ and ‘Do I believe in my ability to make the change?’” He considered that people have to have the self-belief to enable personal change. It confirms the adage Belief = Action = Results. Belief, however, is only part of the journey. Cliff felt making and maintaining change is difficult because, “we are hard-wired to keep doing things the way we have always done it. Change means creating new neural pathways.”

The key message from Cliff was to be persistent and hang tough when things get difficult. “There are a number of phases when we try to effect personal change [refer image] and at any stage it is easy to lapse or relapse.” Cliff indicated it was important to understand the phases of change so that we can be kinder on ourselves when we are trying to make a change for the better. “It’s a fine line … to stick with the change you have to think tough, without being tough on yourself!”  If you wish to grow and achieve your potential, personal change is unavoidable. How we deal with change, influences its effect on us … so here are four insightful and self-friendly tips!

Self-friendly tips for personal change:

1. Treat a Lapse as a one-off
If you revert back to an ‘old’ behaviour or response in a specific situation, instead of responding in the ‘new’ way, think of it is a minor slip not a complete loss of will. Think how to deal with it next time, rather than it being a defeat. As Einstien said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

2. Implement coping strategies
No-one is an island, ensure you have personal and social strategies in place to help you cope with difficult days. Positive self-talk, mentally rehearsing desired behaviours and support from people in your close network ensure greater success.

3. Reward yourself
When things are going well or you maintained a new behaviour in difficult situation, treat yourself to something special. Positive reinforcement is a great way to effect personal change.

4. Avoid high risk situations
Under stress, we are more likely to revert back to our comfort zone. Where possible avoid difficult situations particularly early on in the change process.

Summary Point
Implementing personal change is rewarding and sticking out the tough journey can be transformational! Remember adherence to the new behaviour is best thought of as being on a performance continuum, not an all or nothing scenario.

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