Making Change Last
Making Change Last
Change is not only possible, it is necessary to be the best version of yourself.
Disappointed by your partner’s bad habits, promises and little movement in the direction you hoped for, you have said, “People don’t change”. You may even be disappointed in your own efforts to change.
Where you may not be able to change the shape of your hairline, your height or some genetic tendencies, you can change and shape personality and behavior with some effort. And we all should.
Change is happening all around you every single day.
Consider the life experiences that have shaped your personality negatively. Those that have made you fearful or aggressive, insecure and irritable, low achieving or unable to find peace, joy and satisfaction in any achievement. They are examples of unwanted change. Other life experiences have led to positive change.
Your boss makes changes, your children are maturing, your parents need you more, you partner says you have to change. Change is going to happen and when you get on board and manage the change process you will have more of what you want. Change is happening with or without you. The more engaged and intentional you are, the more likely you are to like the results and be happier and more engaged.
It is easier to stay the same than to do the work necessary for positive change.
Yet in order to fulfill your life purpose, meet the needs of a relationship and find happiness, may I suggest that positive change even transformation must be on your radar. Imagine approaching change with the perspective of becoming someone new. Someone who is kind, generous, compassionate, empathic even joyous. How might your life change.
Couples must discuss the need for change.
Couples are faced with small and large issues, hoping the other person will change. The small issues may be the everyday frustrations like crumbs on the countertop or dishes all over the house, while the larger issues vary from betrayals or addictions that threaten to end the relationship.
While not every small issue needs to be addressed, the most damaging thing that a partner can do is dismiss valid concerns only to have them grow or erupt later in an argument. Change in a couple’s relationship is more effective when both parties are involved.
Six things are needed to make change last.
- Passion and Intention.
- Identify Resistance
- Change Management
You must want to change. Understand what you stand to lose and how your life will deteriorate if your behaviour continues. Change will happen when the cost of staying the same is too high and there are no benefits to be had from your old behaviour. Amplify your costs and remove any possible benefits. For example, If your SO is lonely in the relationship and you have committed to spending weekends together, remove most or all of the commitments that take you away on weekends. You might leave your golf foursome, change your role at work to reduce off hours obligations and initiate fun activities you can do together. Make a verbal or written commitment to change.
Passion and intention.
Think of an area of your life where you are most successful. Perhaps you are a great swimmer, sales person, accountant. Perhaps you inherited the position or you have natural ability, but if you are at the top of your field, you are passionate, intentional and conscious every step of the way. The swimmer may have brought some natural ability but it was his passion that brought him to the pool at 5.00 am every morning as he consistently and consciously made his strokes. When he swims today, he doesn’t think because the movements are hardwired into his consciousness. The sales man who is at the top of his game has been so consistent and intentional that a sale is second nature.
What the swimmer, the sales-man and you in your relationship must do is to make the desired change a hardwired habit. Your committed relationship is likely the most important decision you make in a lifetime and it has the potential to bring you great joy or loss.
Resistance is the voice of opposition that speaks up when you try to do something worthwhile or valuable. It is the voice that weakens your resolve when you determine to quit an addiction, end an affair and become the master of your life. The voice says that where you are is ok and change is unnecessary.
“It’s no big deal… Everyone does it… No one will know…and I can’t do this.”
Resistance must be confronted with the voice of certainty. Opposition thins when met with the message.
“This is a big deal…The person I want to be does not do this… If no one else knows, I will know…and I can do this.”
In the couple relationship, change is best managed with the involvement of 2 supportive individuals collaborating on the tools for successful change: Good tools fill a missing gap. Examples of tools are a) caring text messages that reinforce and show gratitude for positive change, b)reading a relationship book together, c)practicing a certain relationship skill.
I encourage you to have weekly check-ins where you can identify challenges and successes and decide how to handle them. The easier and most long-lasting type of change is an incremental one that happens gradually. It is easy to overestimate the big changes and undervalue the small daily improvements that achieve your goals. Taking small steps and having regular check-ins are sure to make the difference.
Celebration is your positive reinforcement and an effective way to support each other as change blossoms and grows. When you notice small improvements and celebrate progress together you strengthen your relationship and keep it vibrant.
More insight on change.
The Power of Marginal Gains
Most of us want to see change right away, we don’t notice small changes and quickly lose interest if results aren’t perfect. Or we crumble if we don’t get the recognition we believe “we have earned or deserve.” Thus we ignore a powerful element, that of marginal gains. Here is the story of how Dave Brailsford changed professional cycling in 2003.
When Brailsford was hired as the performance Director of British cyclists, they hadn’t won a gold medal since 1908. One of the top bike manufacturers refused to sell bikes to the team because of the negative association with losing.
The new Director did all the usual things but didn’t stop with more comfortable bike seats, electrically heated over shorts or better racing suits. He and the team began searching for 1% improvements in overlooked areas. For example, they hired a surgeon to teach each rider better handwashing to reduce the number of colds; they painted the inside of the team truck white in order to see bits of dust that could hamper the performance of the bikes and even transported mattresses and pillows so each rider could have an optimum night’s sleep.
After five years these improvements accumulated, and the British Cycling team dominated at the 2008 Olympics winning 60 % of medals. Between 2007 and 2017 British cyclists won178 championships, 66 Olympic or Paralympic gold medals and 5 Tour De France medals.
Imagine the benefit to your relationship of saying please and thank you, giving a compliment, offering to help, or buying flowers. Imagine a 1% consistent improvement 30 times this year and the difference it will make to your S/O.
Success is a few small disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgement, repeated every day. Jim Rohn.
There’s a lot of talk about change. Even Gandhi said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”
But what if change is only the beginning. And something much deeper is being asked of you.
What if your relationship demands more than easy change. That in giving your partner what they need, you stretch, conquer your fears and discover unexpected joy.
If you want to discuss change further