Today we have a guest post from Akkie Okma, a psychologist, business associate and friend of mine. Akkie specializes in helping people who are struggling with burnout as well as other workplace and personal challenges.
Akkie and I have had countless discussions on the topic of change. We all know we can’t change other people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying!! And yes I’ve learned that real change can only take place when an individual decides THEY ARE READY to fully commit; but as a person who lacks patience, I’m still always searching for a fast forward button to press (like 1,000 times) to speed up the readiness process. With these frustrations in mind, I especially appreciate Akkie’s perspective on how we can support others as they work their own way through the process of change. Take it away Akkie…
Who would not want to change his or her behavior for the better? Quit smoking and or drinking, no longer holding things off, slimming down, more sporting etc. From now on you intend to only do things that are good for you and you will be making good and healthy choices. If it only were so simple!
But as we all know, changing is not an easy thing and it will not come without effort. Good intentions and some discipline will take you a long way. As will a strong focus on your goal. However, many other possible factors may come into play to hold you back, like self-knowledge and hereditary influences. Furthermore, most of us will need strong support from family and friends.
James Prochaska a.o in his book Changing for good: A revolutionary six-stage program for overcoming bad habits and moving your life positively forward puts forward his view that in changing you need to determine what your actual position is in a changing process (beginning, middle, end). This is important, because in different phases, people need different sorts of assistance. As much as such a conclusion may seem self-evident today, it was not at the time of publication. He was the first to scientifically demonstrate which interventions would offer the best results in a certain stage of a change cycle.
Suppose you decided to take up more sporting activities and you are at the very beginning of the cycle, then ‘awareness’ is important. In that phase you need e.g. to get information on what positive effects sports may have on your body and life. What is your physical condition, do you need to change daily patterns, how will you be feeling once you are a regular sportsman/woman?
In a follow-up phase, when sports have actually been taken up in a routine, a modest ‘reward’ would be effective.
And should at an end of the change cycle a relapse occur, then ‘support’ of friends and family is crucial. They will need to help in motivating to continue with the change process.
I was myself ‘supported’ recently by my friends Suzy (the founder of Strong is the new black) and Lisa. They had bought me a t-shirt as a birthday present with a text: JUST DO IT. They had rightly guessed that after a strong start in following a push-up exercise regime I had relapsed. I can tell you, with such strong worded support from these good friends, I quickly and ‘spontaneously’ picked up again and once more pushing up is part of my weekly routine.
JUST DO IT!
I’d like to mention that one of the most memorable moments ever at the office, was a business meeting with Akkie that concluded with her totally out of the blue, giving an update on her pushup progress!! We proceeded to the floor for a quick demo on progressions. Why can’t all meetings start or end this way?