The Change Process

“You can only create in your life what you can envision in your mind.”  – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves

Change is not easy and it is almost impossible to take intentional action without a plan. Sociologist, Kurt Lewin developed a change model involving three steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. For Lewin, the process of change entails creating the perception that a change is needed, then moving towards the desired change, and finally, solidifying that new behavior as the norm. Lewin’s model provides some framework around change and there is no doubt, it requires challenging the status quo. Whether you are changing organizational processes or your own behavior, you have to move from a familiar place to the unknown which requires courage. There is often a tug of war that goes on in the mind when contemplating change so having a clear vision and plan to get there is critical. Unfortunately, adopting new behavior and making a change stick is difficult and a large number of change efforts fail. Desire and effort don’t always guarantee success, but it appears the type of motivation that drives change does. What motivates someone to take action is personal but there are two primary types of motivation.

Intrinsic motivation: This occurs when you act without any obvious external rewards. The motivation seems to come from within and the desire to change is often viewed as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize your potential.

“Pause to figure out what motivates you to take action; you will know it is intrinsic when it hooks your heart and soul.” – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves

Extrinsic Motivation: Explains the drive for an individual to participate within a specific activity or role given the potential to achieve a reward or punishment.

Some people are motivated extrinsically and some people are motivated intrinsically, or a combination of both.  

Fact: Research supports that the sustainability of long-term change is improved when using intrinsic motivation as a catalyst.

It is also important to notice what is driving your desire to change. Fear is sometimes the catalyst for change. It can help you jump-start into action but far too often it is short-lived. Fear can also hold you hostage and keep you from taking action. If this is the case, it is important to figure out what is driving the fear under the surface. Understanding the why is helpful and can help pave the way to positive action, change, and the desired outcome.

“You can look for external sources of motivation and that can catalyze a change, but it won’t sustain one. It has to be from an internal desire.”  – Jillian Michaels

“Chase contentment by seeking rewards that are found outside yourself, or sit still and listen to what moves you from within.” – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves

Change Exercise

Ponder the following questions and consider writing down your answers or talk through them with a trusted friend or family member, coach, or counselor:

  1. Is there something you want to change?
  2. If so, write down what you want to change and why.
  3. Pause and visualize what your future state will look like and feel like when you make the change.
  4. Notice the feelings that are driving your desire to change.
  5. Is your desire to change being motivated by an outside force (extrinsic) or an internal desire (intrinsic)?
  6. Is fear driving your desire to change or is it holding you back? Either side of fear in this case is not optimal, so do some introspection and try to identify what is driving the fear.
  7. How is fear showing up for you and why?
  8. Are you experiencing any other barriers that might be holding you back? If so, write them down and consider ways to overcome them.
  9. Are you trying to tackle change by yourself? If needed, reach out for help and support from trusted resources.
  10. Who are your trusted resources and how can they help?
  11. What action will you consider doing that will move you in the direction of your desired change?

Pondering the change process and asking yourself powerful questions can help you become clear on what you want to change and why you want to change. Both the “what” and “why” are important because awareness is the foundation for change. Change requires you to first PAUSE in order to become:

  1. Aware of what you want to change
  2. Awake to why the change is important to you
  3. Empowered to take action and to have a plan
  4. Transformed by adopting new behavior into your life

EHA created and encourages organizations, leaders, teams, and individuals to use the 4 P Framework™ (Pause, Process, Pivot, Proceed) when making decisions. Consider using this framework when you want to make changes in your life. The framework has 4 primary steps designed to encourage reflection, discovery, adaptation, and intentional action. 

Click here to access a visual journey through the change process.

If you are interested in behavior and what motivates people to take action, you might want to read Prochaska and DiClemente’s work on readiness to change. It will also give you some insight into your own behavior. If you don’t feel like googling it, see below.

High-level framework of TTM:
Readiness to change is a Trans Theoretical Model (TTM) developed by Prochaska and DiClemente, focusing on the decision-making of the individual; it is a model of intentional change. It operates on the assumption that people do not change behaviors quickly and decisively. Behavioral change, especially habitual behavior, occurs continuously through a cyclical process. The TTM model reflects the 6 stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. 

“Embracing change requires being open-minded and awake to new possibilities. To have the capacity to see beyond the obvious and the desire and courage to walk into the unknown. Change requires letting go of the familiar, stepping beyond what is comfortable, and trusting yourself and the process.” – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves

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