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Highlighting the importance of the desired behavior

By now you have recognized that a successful change process is much more complicated and entails more work than just posting your New Year’s Resolution on Facebook.

We’ll continue with the example of you wanting to play more tennis. Although we all know that it’s important to stay healthy and most of us enjoy hanging out with their families there are competing interests that could come in the way. How important is it for you to exercise when you could be watching TV, work, run errands, etc. 

In order to highlight the importance of your desired behavior, you must plead its case. Again, this is best done in writing.

Start by making a list for the pros of NOT changing anything and the CONS of changing. An example could be this:

PRO: Instead of playing tennis, I’d rather have a glass of wine.

CON: My tennis racket is 20 years old and I don’t know how to pick a new one. 

These are pretty lame arguments but trust me, our brain is REALLY good justifying staying in old patterns. 

The next step is to make a list of the PROS of changing and the CONS of NOT changing. 

PRO: I will be healthier and will be able to share an activity with my children.

CON: I will stay out of shape and won’t enjoy all that CO has to offer because all activities are really hard when you’re not fit.

At this point, most people are starting to realize that the PROS for change and the CONS for NOT changing playback to the values they identified in the earlier exercise. They also realize that there are other important values such as relaxing with a glass of wine after a tough day at work. If this is the case ask yourself:

How important are the competing priorities compared to the change you want to make?

How can you honor both values or do you have to give one up?

Ideally, you’ll come to the conclusion that yes, a glass of wine is nice but you really feel a lot better after running around on the tennis court AND it will enable you to engage in other activities you value: play tennis with your family and be fit enough to hike, ski, etc. 

In essence, what you have done is to up the importance of “ranking” your priorities. 

Coming up next: Exploring and supporting your readiness for change by building confidence

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