“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Socrates
Unconsciously formed habits die hard but we need to change them for a better, happier future. Sadly, changing ourselves doesn’t come easy, and it often finds us in vulnerable situations. Nonetheless, it’s all worth the pain when we start regaining control of our lives.
Researcher and psychologist James O. Prochaska, Ph.D. observed that change occurs in stages, and therefore dividing behaviour into parts makes it manageable and likely to be successful. Instead of charging head-on like a bull, dissect the habit into parts and form a strategy for each unit. This way, the process becomes less intimidating.
Changing a behaviour is not complete without reinforcement, as B.F. Skinner‘s early research demonstrates. Intrinsic, extrinsic, or extraneous reinforcement makes the effort worth it and gives you strength to go on. Rewarding yourself makes the process positive despite gruelling moments of self-control. The more it feels like torture, the more you’ll ditch the whole process.
Talking about torture, it’s also important not to take it all in, lest you’ll quit the next day. A San Francisco State University study found that participants had more chances of success when their goals were gradually approximated. Each progressive step will eventually lead you to the top, so keep calm and enjoy the process.
It goes without saying that you’ll need more than these to successfully transform into a better you. You’ll need consistency, practice, and a positive outlook to carry you through. Building a whole new you requires all of your energy, so better not waste it on doubt.