While every day is a life-changing experience and we know we can purposefully make changes to make a difference, we don’t always stop to consider what it takes to make change happen, especially the changes we know we need to make but struggle with. Most of the various models of change include:
- Changing your environment in a way that prompts the change you want;
- Changing behaviors in response to that environmental change;
- Changing your capabilities as you repeat the behaviors;
- Changing your beliefs to align with your behaviors;
- Refining your identity to incorporate your changed beliefs.
The really cool thing about purposeful change in your life is that you don’t have to actively do each level. If level 1 happens effectively, then the change in behavior will start to happen, which then changes your capabilities, your belief and ultimately your identity. Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act! It can be that simple.
But here’s the rub. You cannot do a new thing just once or twice and expect it to be a permanent change. Permanent change takes doing something enough that it becomes the way you work. There is an old myth that says changing habits takes 21 days. More recently research published in the June 2009 issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology showed that there is a wide range of how long it takes to change a habit. The average was 66 days. Other important findings: It is important to stay on task diligently at the beginning for the most success, and one missed session does not have to derail the whole process.
So, take heart. Change can happen. At first it does take work for it to happen, but eventually it won’t be work because you will have changed!