How high is your motivation to change ?

Apr 3, 2020

Motivation to change best optimised when we have a clear reason and purpose to change, where we can envisage the consequences of changing or not changing.

Sometimes not changing does not seem like an option and we might say to ourself "I just have to do it". This tends to happen when when the  reality of not changing is feels stark and real, when all denial has gone. Perhaps your Doctor has said "you will not live to see your grandchildren unless you stop smoking". Often the reason and purpose for change is not as clear.

The following assessment can help in assessing motivation to change. More often there is more than one change that we are wanting to make. It is best to start with the one change where we feel the strongest, most impelling reason and purpose.

Here are the stages of change...

Pre contemplation stage.  Andy likes buying stuff, he sees it, buys it, enjoys it, he's got the money and after all, he tells himself that he deserves rewards for his hard work. Andy is not even contemplating change to his spending, its all upside and no downside.

Contemplation stage.  Andy doesn't have enough money to pay his credit card this month and he's left with balance that he will have to pay interest on. Andy's friends are commenting on how cluttered his apartment is with all this stuff. They used to be impressed by his cool, carefully chosen items.  Andys car just broke down and he's had a quote for $5000 for repairs. Andy is beginning to contemplate making a change but there is no plan yet and he's still shopping and just got his credit card limit extended to $12000. Andy is beginning to feel a downside to his shopping habit. It's not so much the carefree fun that it used to be but he's looking forward to a week on the beach in Tahiti in winter. Privately to himself Andy acknowledges that he is worried and his sleep quality is declining. Denial that there is no problem is beginning to crumble.

Decision stage. Andy has made a decision to do a budget. He does the budget while going through his credit card statements and finds that he has been spending more than he has been earning for a long time and that his deficit has been increasing over time.  Andy also finds other "financial leaks" such as $200 per week on eating out. Knowledge is power. Andy has pulled his head out of the sand and is facing reality and has made a decision to cut his credit card in half  and has decided to cancel  the Tahiti trip.  He's also working on a S.M.A.R.T plan

Action stage.  Andy carries out on his decision to cancel his trip and cuts his credit card in half. Andy also starts selling stuff that he doesn't need on Trade Me and this begins to pay down credit card debt. Andy also has initiated a new habit of going to the gym instead of shopping and is cooking his own food most nights instead of buying takeaways. Andy is beginning to feel in control again, proud of his cooking skills, fitness and increasing financial strength.

Maintenance stage. Andy review the change that he has made. He's feeling proud of the changes he has made and increasingly feels free and independent. his friends and family are giving him great feedback as well. Credit card debt has been paid off and his new habits of cooking, gym and spending time with friends have been the ultimate reward. Having succeeded with this change Andy is feeling super confident about making another change.

Relapse stage. (sometimes this can happen where we revert to a previous stage). Andy was feeling a little tired and lonely and he went to the mall and bought some stuff he didn't need but managed to take most of it back for credit. Option here is to revisit Decision stage or Action stage.

The language of change

  1. Pre contemplation stage .. What problem ?, theres no problem. ( feeling complacent)

2.  Contemplation stage ..I might change, I could change. (feeling, worried anxious)

3.  Decision stage ..I will change, I want to change, I can change, I  have to        change. (feeling determined, decisive)

4.  Action stage .. I'm doing it, I'm sticking to the my plan (feeling energised, determined)

5.  Maintenance stage I am maintaining it (feeling pride, empowerment,         confidence)

Think of the areas in your life where you are feeling some motivation and rank them on the 5 point scale above. This should help in assessing motivation to make a start in changing a habit

Often it is very beneficial to talk to a counsellor or a trusted friend in order to explore all the thoughts, feelings, beliefs  and priorities you have around making change a habit.

Martin Fraser, B.A. (Hons) Psyc. Dip Counselling.

Particular interest in enhancing resilience in my community against Depression, Anxiety, Isolation and Addictions. Member of NZ Assoc Counsellors.

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