Change always invites a little drama, even when you want the change. Just a few weeks ago I received my new computer and to go with it, new software, Windows 7. As excited as I was, and as committed to the change as I was, it was still frustrating. I was slow to find things. I felt impatient and nervous getting used to the new look. This is an example of a change that I wanted but still I had a lot of resistance around the learning curve. Another change I created in my life is the commitment to being more “green.”
I started recycling and made a decision to use those cloth bags at the grocery store. But what happend the first month? The intention was there but the action was not. The cloth bags never made it out of the passenger seat of my car for over a month, until I decided to course-correct.
Every time I went to the store, I made a secret vow that even if I was half way through the check out line, I would make myself go back to the car to retrieve the bags. Yes, it was uncomfortable if not slightly embarassing, but the discomfort helped me create a new habit. Now I understand that there are three steps to facilitating positive change.
1. Become aware
2. Create a new habit
You first have to become aware that you need a change. Whether your change is out of a need, such as purchasing a new computer and new software system, or out of a desire to be a better citizen of the earth. The first step is awareness.
Create a habit
Desire and awareness alone does nothing without a plan of action. To implement change, you must develop a new habit so you start reprogramming your brain until it becomes second nature. Otherwise, you will have good intentions but no real change. At first it will be difficult. You will have to think about what you are doing, over and over until one day it comes naturally. This is the act of going from conscious competence to unconscious competence.
Even though it is now a habit, your old programming will kick in and surprise you. After a year of using cloth bags, one day you still leave your bags on the passenger seat. Six months after using Windows 7 you still can’t find the command you have used thousands of times. After eating all the right foods you go on a binge. That is why you must course-correct. Don’t be hard on yourself and create more drama. Just make the correction and now you have sort of done what I call a “back-stitch.” You have sewn in the new habit and now it is stronger.
Yes, change always invites a little discomfort. The key to getting through change is to develop new habits and this comes through training.