Picture of Joy Wagner, LMFT-IT

Joy Wagner, LMFT-IT

Making Change Stick

Change can be difficult to make stick. How many times have those January resolutions ended up being given up on or forgotten about by February? How many times have you beaten yourself up because you did not lose the weight? Is there something wrong with you or is it just a process?

It is absolutely a process and one that goes against our brain’s wiring. Our brains are designed to create neuropathways that eventually make our routines easy and conserve energy. That is why learning new things can feels so hard. Recognizing that fact and that it is not just about will-power or smarts, or grit can help us to quit beating ourselves up. Making change stick is about finding what works for us personally, setting yourself up for success and being more realistic about what is possible.

Finding what works for us personally is a shift in thinking. One way to make the shift is to view the change process as an experiment. Sometimes when we try to make a change, we get too rigid in our plans and then when they don’t work, we feel like we failed. However, if you view it as an experiment, then it allows the flexibility to try different solutions and evaluate their usefulness. This evaluative process can help you remember that when something doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean you failed but rather the method just didn’t work. Researchers have found the biggest factor that determines long term success for people who have lost weight is their ability to keep going and not give up.

Setting yourself up for success takes some self-reflection and planning. One great tool to use is SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Running your goal through these aspects can make your goal manageable and achievable. Once you have your goal determined, it is important to look at the smaller steps that can get you there. Finally, look at your support system and who might be able to offer you the support you need in your change process.

Now that you have fixed your mindset of viewing change as an experiment and you have made you goal and plan for getting there, be patient with yourself and learn to recognize your limits. Are you expecting to much too fast? Are you going about things in a way that doesn’t work for you? Are your expectations based on what you think other people are doing rather than what you want or are capable of? Leave the judgments and criticisms out of it and ask yourself these questions.

When we come to the point of seeing something that needs to be changed and we actually want to do something about it, it can be exciting to imagine how things could be different. Creating change can be difficult but it is possible. If you have tried before on your own and feel like you could use more support, please let Becky or I know. We would be very happy to support you in your process.

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