Planning on how we can change to improve.

As each year draws to a close a period of reflection starts to kick in, like an internal review of successes, achievements and the things we’ve enjoyed. And then we shift, we start to focus on the things that didn’t go so well and start planning how we can make changes to improve or prevent a repeat from happening in the new year.

Whether it’s a goal to try something new, improve your health, learn a new skill, at this time of year it is often something else that is driving us to make changes. The pressure of starting afresh as the first of January rolls around may help to focus your thinking, but all too often resolutions are abandoned within the first few weeks, if not the first few days (or even hours).

But don’t worry or feel like a failure. With the best will in the world, you just might not be ready…

Readiness for change can be measured over six stages:

Pre-contemplation – This is not the time to sign up for a £100 a month gym membership. Here you are barely acknowledging there is a problem. This is the early December ‘it’s Christmas’ excuse. Ignoring the inevitable weight gain, or just not even being aware anything is wrong or lacking, most of us are sitting in a pre-contemplative state most of the time (we just don’t realise it yet).

Contemplation – Hooray! You made it. That little seed has been planted, a tiny nugget of truth, an epiphany. Maybe it’s an unflattering photograph or possibly a rejected CV, but something gets the ball rolling. You start to think about changing.

Preparation – You’re hanging on in there and showing some willing. Did you google gym opening times, visit the travel agent or did you order that college prospectus? Things start to spice up a bit here. Maybe you’ve bought a new pair of trainers or ordered a new passport, all to prepare you for the changes ahead of you.

Action – Well done! You’ve taken action. You stepped out the front door and ran/walked a mile. You swapped the chocolate for low-fat yoghurts. You sat at the back of your new class. Bought the plane ticket. Change is afoot.

Maintenance/Recycling – this part is crucial. You’ve done it once, you’ve got to keep doing it now. Repetition, habit forming, ingraining new behaviours into your cognitive processes. Keep turning up to that lesson each Wednesday after work. At this point, it’s also important to allow for adjustments, to help keep you on track. So, maybe the February marathon was a little ambitious, but don’t stop now, try a 10K in March instead. The cake and wine you had on Saturday night, fine for a one off, but tomorrow walk a little further or swap your roasted spuds for some extra parsnips with your Sunday lunch.

Change – CONGRATULATIONS. You’ve done it. You’ve made the change. You’ve stopped doing what you don’t want to do anymore and started doing something positive. By now, it’s second nature, you might not recognise the person you were before, but celebrate and congratulate yourself, what you’ve achieved hasn’t been easy, and there’ll be a tonne of people proud of you and some you’ve inspired to take their own journey too.

You might find now you’re back at the pre-contemplative stage. You might be blissfully enjoying your new job, or got into that outfit for ‘the wedding’, but don’t be surprised if you start thinking about taking another step to a ‘new you’. And you know what? You can do it. Just don’t let a ticking clock force you into making a half-hearted promise that will lead to disappointment. The date that you decide you’re ready to take that first step is the most important date of all.

If you’d like some support with making a change, whether it’s weight loss or setting a new life goal, contact Maple Health Group to talk things through with our qualified team. When you’re ready, we can help you achieve your dreams.