To Change or Not to Change: That is the Question

Are You Ready, Willing and Able?

Old Hamlet kind of asked this question, too, but in a different (maybe more profound) way): “To be or not to be – THAT is the question”.

Perhaps ‘being’ is the flip side of changing. One must truly ‘be’ before he or she can change. Another way of saying this is, “a person must come out of denial, accept the truth of whom and where he or she is, before being ready and able to change. Interesting. Awareness or rather self-discovery may need to precede active change.

Good awareness questions to start with: Do I want to change? Do I need to change? Do I have to change? Should I change? Is it important for me to change? Would I like to change? This should I question is the first of three questions everyone must go through (and answer), before change can or will happen.

Interestingly, research shows that some of the best counseling – helping people change in their lives – spends the majority of time addressing and answering this question. Should the person change? Pretty important to somehow come to a “yes, I should (need to, want to) change. Things need to be different in my life. Things are not going so well and could definitely improve. I would really like for things (me) to be different. People must decide to change, before it will occur. Change just doesn’t happen in a person. It must be sought.

We all know that change is hard! It’s hard to change habits. Look at how hard it is to change what we eat, to start and keep up with an exercise program, to become a more loving person, to get over hurts, to learn a new skill, to stop doing things that have become a habit, and so on. Many people give up. Think of New Year’s resolutions. Enough said.

One of the most important first steps in any personal change process is that decision: Should I change? Getting a strong ‘yes’ to this question, including a commitment to do whatever it takes (they often can go together), is a critical, even essential, part of the change formula. OK. Let’s say we get through this. We are sitting now on a strong “yes!” Is that it? No. There’s more.

The second question is: Are you able? Can you if you tried? Are you able to make the change? A people can have a strong “yes I should” but fall into the deep well of the “but” if they want to, but don’t think they can. This is a stopper for many. They really would like to, need to, but don’t believe they are able to. We call this sense of ‘ableness’ “self-efficacy.” Kind of like self-confidence, but more specific to a particular need or task. It’s pretty important to have a sense or belief that it is possible. If a person wants to do something, change in some way, but doesn’t believe that it is possible, then he or she is very unlikely to even try.

So there are two steps that comes before the Nike “Just Do It” – First, the decide you really want to do it, should do it, need to do it, and second, that you believe you can do it or that it is possible.

The next question has to do with readiness to change. You see, a person has to be ready to change. He or she might have clearly decided to change something about themselves, and know that it is possible – he has the ability to change, but is not yet ready to ‘just do it.’

Becoming ready to change is the third step in the change process, and may be quick or not so quick. One of the ways to be ready, is to just try. Who was it who said that most of doing things in life is just showing up? How often have you found that a good way to feel like doing something – being ready – is just showing up and starting to do it? Some call it “nibbling” on the goal or task, before taking a bite.

So what about trying. Many believe the old saying: You can either talk the talk or walk the walk. Even that trying is not actually doing. The famous psychiatrist of old, Fritz Perls, used to say: “Tryin’ is lyin’” But actually both these things are not exactly accurate. Research on motivation indicates that people talk about change, in certain ways before they actually begin to change. They think about it and even talk about it, as a way of getting ready to do it. We also have found out that people experiment with change, try it on for size in a way or test the waters of change, before they actually do it.

Thus, personal change requires a willingness (it is important), an ableness (belief that it is possible) and readiness – Ready, Willing and Able. Each has to do with answering the questions, “am I willing, able and ready” to change? A program that effectively addresses these questions, and helps people to not only get ready for change, but to actually do it, is the The Dave Thorpe Experience program, a unique life change intervention, based on motivational principles and research in the addictions, that can help those many of us who want more out of life, a stuck or dissatisfied, and want to have more fulfillment in life – but personal change must take place. Might be worth a look…

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