It’s the start of a New Year and that means it’s time to start thinking about making resolutions. You should be excited. This is the time to focus on that problem behavior you’ve wanted to change. Weight loss would be a good thing and you would feel better as a result. Perhaps you have even signed up for a gym membership, and added yet another healthy cookbook to your library. Then why do you feel so ambivalent about getting started? Where is the motivation?
Ambivalence is a normal and expected part of long term change. It typically shows up in the “contemplation” stage of change, where you have recognized a behavior you wish to change, recognized that this behavior is a problem for you, but are fearful or even feel “stuck” as to how to change it. On one hand, you are no longer content with the status quo, but on the other hand, it will be uncomfortable and even difficult to change. So, how can you move forward with change? Keep reading to find out how you can overcome ambivalence and move toward the outcome you desire.
Fear of change can take many forms. The idea of trying something new can be quite scary for some people. What if my friends and family don’t agree? What if I fail? These are all very real possibilities when it comes to change. This is the perfect opportunity to explore your fears further and assess validity. Just because you did not meet your goal the last time does not mean you won’t this time. Looking at both sides of change will help you to see the positives as well.
Pros and Cons list:
Positives of change need to outweigh the fear of change for ambivalence to be resolved. This is a great time to create a pros and cons list to help you work through your reasons to change or not. Instead of just focusing on the positives and negatives for making the change, be sure to add in the positives and negatives for staying the same.
What are the positive things about making lifestyle changes?
What are the negative things about making lifestyle changes?
What are the positive things about NOT making any changes at all?
What are the negative things about NOT making any changes at all?
For greater success, be sure to write down all your responses in a journal.
Focus on the Positive:
Studies show that when you focus on the positives about a situation, you are more apt to be successful. Keep a journal of all the positive things you have been able to accomplish. Also, don’t forget to keep focusing on the positive aspects of change in the future:
How will my life be different in five years if I am able to make this change?
What strengths do I have that will help me accomplish my goal?
When I have had to make difficult changes in the past, what helped me be successful?
Viewing ambivalence as a normal part of the change process – where you are curious and investigative vs. frustrated and defeated, can help you get through it and even discover some underlying motivation. You may not be perfect every day, but you are one step closer to the change you would like to make!