It’s half-way through January. How are your resolutions doing? Still going strong or is your stride starting to stumble? Maybe you were a little bit ambitious swearing off all sweets! Or the gym schedule you set was a little too intense. Change is hard, but how you change makes all the difference.
“There goes my resolution,” my coworker declared, taking a single chocolate truffle from a communal box. If your resolution is so easily broken, it’s time to rethink how we make changes in our lives.
Nothing makes me roll my eyes harder than corporate jargon. My alter-ego works in an office building, complete with cubicles, conservative dress codes, and company retreats. Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely like my job and have a lot of pride in the organization I work for! But sometimes the jargon is too cheesy to bear.
So, when we were all squished into a Convene conference room, being taught about “The Change Model” I had to swallow a groan. As the presentation went on, though, I started to warm to the concept. Not really as it applied to work, but as it applies to health and fitness and… yes other things, including work.
Whenever we make a big change in life, we expect it to go smoothly. We begin at point A and we slowly and steadily make our way to point B. Whether it’s starting a new fitness regimen, trying to lose weight, going back to school, starting a new relationship, we hope for consistent steady improvement.
That’s rarely the case.
As soon as the change model started to click with me, I knew I wanted to share it with you.
Zone 1 – Status Quo
“All change is loss.”
This statement seemed jarring the first time I heard it. I was working in a mental health facility, and it was one of the earliest pieces of wisdom I picked up on.
Remember in Inside Out when Riley started having memories that were two-toned, mixed-emotions, happy and sad? Pretty much all change is going to reflect that.
Even if something good is happening, a change you have wanted or hoped for, you are losing what you have now. You’re losing the status quo.
If you’re starting a weight loss plan, you may realize that you do not get to eat your favorite treats as often. New fitness plan? You have less time to spend with your friends if they aren’t so inclined. Going back to school? You’ve lost your old routine.
Even if this change is happening because you’re dissatisfied with your life as it is, you’re still experiencing loss. And it’s okay for that to be difficult; it’s okay to struggle with it.
Zone 2- Disruption
“What did I get myself into? I’ve made a huge mistake.”
This is where things get hard. This is the zone where frustration and anger have a tendency to live.
Expectations are shattered.
Overnight body transformations have not occurred. Delayed-onset muscle soreness is keeping me on the couch. My class load is more than I expected. *INSERT COOKIE MONSTER LEVEL CRAVINGS HERE.* The people at this new job are cliquey. I moved to a new city and got 3 tickets this week because I don’t understand the parking rules around here.
Maybe that last one was just me.
You’ve dipped down, and that idealized future you had in your head seems farther away than ever.
It’s easy to give up now and return to status quo, the way things used to be.
But there’s no guarantee you can get back there. Maybe you sank money into tuition or a down-payment or a gym membership. Maybe you rebel against your new diet and eat even more than you did before. (That is where that ‘95% of diets fail’ myth comes from – giving up here.) Or maybe the emotional fatigue from a failed endeavor starts to weigh on you.
Whatever happens now, you’ve stepped away from the old status quo and the new one may put you at a greater disadvantage.
Zone 3 – Adoption
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Take heart. This downward slide does not go on forever, and the power is in your hands to choose when you enter the zone of adoption.
It is the moment you find a delicious recipe that fits your calories and macros. Or, it is the day when you notice the scale hasn’t moved but your pants are fitting a little bit looser. That trip up to your fourth-floor walk-up apartment doesn’t leave you gasping for air anymore. You knock that first test out of the park. The new boss tells you “good job.” Or maybe it’s even smaller than that.
But the lightbulb goes off.
“I can do this.”
This zone is full of trial and error, but there’s something new behind it. There is a confidence now, and you have turned a corner. You know now it’s okay to miss a step, because you can always take another. You are past rock bottom and you are climbing onward.
Zone 4 – Innovation
“I didn’t come this far just to come this far.”
This zone is best exemplified by the attitude: if I can do that, what else can I do?
Maybe you finished Couch to 5K and you want to see if you can run a 10k.
Or it’s when you decide to become more involved in a new community you’ve moved to.
Perhaps you’ve mastered the day to day tasks of your new job and you’re ready to go above and beyond.
Being in the zone of innovation doesn’t always mean you’ve reached your goal, but it means you have solidified your pathway to it. You’ve learned how to deal with the frustrations and set-backs and found powerful new tools to continue to propel you forward.
The biggest hurdle is getting through the zone of disruption and into the zone of adoption. Now, I’m going to give you the best tool for a quick turnaround: more corporate jargon!
If You’re Enjoying This Post Check Out: Motivation vs. Inspiration
This was another corporate concept I rolled my eyes at initially. Then, it began to remind me of another piece of knowledge I got from working at the mental health facility.
You can’t hit the target if you don’t know where it is. SMART goals are a great way to set yourself up for success.
As you can guess from the excessive capitalization, SMART is an acronym. It means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. (I also just really think the person who came up with it wanted it to spell “smart”.)
Make sure you define what you’re trying to accomplish. Getting in shape is a great idea, but if you don’t have a precise idea of what that looks like, you may flounder and give up. Maybe you have a certain amount of weight you want to lose, or be able to do a certain number of push-ups or sit-ups.
Know your starting point. Know what you’re aiming for. Work out five times a week? Swap out one meal for a healthier choice a day? Add one more vegetable to each meal? Half-assing your progress is easy when you don’t have a baseline or finish line to check against.
Do you have the resources to set yourself up for success? Do you have a doctor or dietician ready to support you? Is there a friend, family-member, or online support group you can turn to? Don’t sabotage yourself by picking a goal you cannot complete. And don’t be afraid to start small, either.
You aren’t going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days. There’s no supersoldier serum to turn you into Captain America overnight. You won’t go from walking a mile to running a marathon in four weeks. Pick a goal that obeys the laws of physics, please.
Related to above, give yourself a realistic time-frame to get things done. If you want to do something but have no specific time you want to get it done by, you’re going to procrastinate. At the same time, if you’re trying to set a new habit it’s a good idea to give yourself a minimum number of days to do so.
30 days is my personal favorite for trying to make a small change or a new habit. They say 21 days is what it takes, so give yourself the buffer and try to go for a full month. But remember, these are guidelines not actual rules. Don’t beat yourself up over a missed deadline.
Did you want to lose 15 pounds on vacation, but “only” lost 10 before you left? Congratulations! You lost 10 pounds! That’s an accomplishment to be proud of.
Now that you’re armed with two great new tools for success, what are you doing to do with them? What changes are you ready to make? What SMART goals are you ready to set?
You’re only 2 weeks into 2018. You have fifty more to make this year incredible.