The Change Process

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“You can only create in your life what you can envision in your mind.”  – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves

Change is not easy and it is almost impossible to take intentional action without a plan. Sociologist, Kurt Lewin developed a change model involving three steps: unfreezing, changing and refreezing. For Lewin, the process of change entails creating the perception that a change is needed, then moving towards the desired change and finally, solidifying that new behavior as the norm. Lewin’s model provides some framework around change and there is no doubt it requires challenging the status quo. Whether you are changing organizational processes or your own behavior, you have to move from a familiar place to the unknown which requires courage. There is often a tug of war that goes on in your mind when contemplating change so having a clear vision and plan to get there is critical. Unfortunately, institutionalizing new behavior and making change stick is difficult and many change efforts fail. Desire and effort don’t guarantee success, it appears the type of motivation that drives change does. What motivates someone to take action is personal but there are two primary types of motivation.

Intrinsic motivation: Occurs when you act without any obvious external rewards. You simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn and actualize your potential.

“Pause to figure out what moves you at your core; you will know you have found it when it hooks your soul.” – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves

Extrinsic Motivation: Explains the drive for an individual to participate within a specific activity or role given the potential to achieve a reward or punishment

Some people are motivated extrinsically and some people are motivated intrinsically, or a combination of both.  

Fact: Research supports that sustainability of long-term change is improved when using intrinsic motivation as a catalyst.

It is also important to notice what is driving your desire to change. Fear is sometimes the catalyst for change. It can help you jump-start your desire to change but far to often it is short lived.

“You can look for external sources of motivation and that can catalyze a change, but it won’t sustain one. It has to be from an internal desire.”  – Jillian Michaels

Change Exercise

Ask yourself the following powerful questions:

  1. Is there something you want to change?
  2. If so, write down what you want to change and why.
  3. Envision your future state.
  4. Notice the feelings that are driving your desire to change.
  5. Is your desire to change being motivated by an outside force (extrinsic) or an internal desire (intrinsic)?
  6. Is fear driving your desire to change or is your desire to change driven by a genuine interest in doing the wise thing for yourself?

Asking yourself powerful questions helps you become clear on what you want to change and why you want to change. Both the “what” and “why” are important because awareness is the foundation for change. Below are 4 stages of the change process for you to consider. Change requires you to become:

  1. Aware of what impacts your life. i.e. What makes you happy, where are you unsatisfied, what causes you stress
  1. Awake to what is important to you and where you are motivated to take action
  1. Empowered to take action based on what is important to you
  2. Transformed by making intrinsically motivated decisions to live life with greater intention and purpose

If you are interested in behavior and what motivates people to take action, you might want to read Prochaska and DiClemente’s work on readiness to change. It will also give you some insight into your own behavior.

Sneak peek:
Readiness to change is a Trans Theoretical Model (TTM) developed by Prochaska and DiClemente, focusing on the decision-making of the individual; it is a model of intentional change. It operates on the assumption that people do not change behaviors quickly and decisively. Behavioral change, especially habitual behavior, occurs continuously through a cyclical process. The TTM model reflects the 6 stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination.

 “Chase contentment by seeking rewards that are found outside yourself, or sit still and listen to what moves you from within.” – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves