Change. It’s something we desperately want the results but often not willing to pay the price to achieve it. Why?
It’s just flat out hard.
Change messes with your schedule and your comfort. It gets personal.
This post isn’t about how long it takes for a habit to form. It’s about the very distinct phases everyone faces when experiencing the battle to change.
I’ve seen time and time again working with clients that they each experience three unique phases in the battle to change.
Recently, I read an excellent book called Organize Tomorrow Today by Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow. They put specific language to this battle to change and I want to give full credit to the source of the concept.
“The mere act of recognizing the phases when you see them and calling them out to yourself is a huge positive step, and it will provide a major boost in energy” according to the authors of Organize Tomorrow Today.
Here are the Three Phases in the Battle to Change:
There’s excitement often when you decide to make a positive change. You have a “triggering event” that serves as a catalyst for this new activity.
You’re thoughts are on the new end result and the first few days it may even feel easy. It’s still new and fun.
The newness and the dreams of “what could be” are so fresh and drive our behavior. For awhile.
But all honeymoons eventually come to an end and the reality of the change is the new normal.
2. The Fight-Thru
This is when the attitude changes from “I can do this” to “This is harder than I thought”.
The key now is winning these Fight-Thru battles to get to the third phase. But how?
The authors offered three techniques:
Ritualize – the less you leave to chance the better your chances are for succeeding in your new change. Ritualize the new habit by chiseling it on purpose at the same time every day as much as possible. Attach it to another already establish habit. When you do this, you’re taking the thinking out of doing it.
Recognize – this means you know “the resistance” as Steven Pressfield puts it, is coming and now here. Learn to say, “I’ve entered The Fight-Thru” and know it’s game time. This is no surprise and you’re ready to take it on.
Ask Two Questions – learning to ask these two questions will leverage the emotions you’re feeling entering The Fight-Thru: “How will I feel if I win this Fight-Thru?” The second question is “How will I feel if I lose this fight-thru?”
“Greatness is predicated on consistently doing things overs can’t or won’t do. Simply put, success is not about being brilliant. It is about being consistent”, the authors quoted.
Remember, overtime when you win a Fight-Thru, the next one gets easier to win. And the next one.
3. Second Nature
After you’ve won a series of Fight-Thrus (big and small), you’ll start to enter the “getting into the grove” phase that feels so good.
Your new habit has become part of your new routine and you’re seeing the results. That’s it, right? I got this now.
But there are three traps that can snatch you in a moment and take you down:
The Discouragement Monster – It can be incredibly discouraging when you put in the work to change and the results are, well, disappointing. You’ve stuck with this new habit to change and it’s easy to begin to think, “Why do I even bother? Nothing’s really changing anyway.” This monster is dangerous because it sucks the willingness to keep going. Just like in sports, scoring often comes in spurts and similar in life change
Disruption – something is bound to happen such as an injury, holidays, illness, or anything that gets us out of our normal routine. They can put a dent and knock us back from our forward motion and momentum. When this happens, we need to go right back to the Fight-Thru stage.
Seduction of Success – you’ve successfully gone through each of the phases and now it’s easy to think, “This is easy and I can coast now. I don’t have to work as hard as it took to get to this point.”
For those who are willing to do the hard work of change and fight the battle necessary for results, understanding and embracing these three phases of the battle of change could be a game changer for you.
Enjoy the Honeymoon but know the Fight-Thru is coming for you. Push for Second Nature but be prepared for its traps.
In the words of Dave Ramsey, “Live like no one else so later, you can live like no else.”
Change is worth it in the long run but to get there you need to battle it with eyes wide open so you can say, “Bring It On.”