I used to wonder why it was so hard to make changes in my life. When I say change, I am talking about changing stuff about me. For example, exchanging bad habits for good ones (or better ones), changing aspects of myself that needed changing (like intolerance, impatience, pride, arrogance), or changing an intellectual or skill area (like learning a new skill or closing an intellectual gap). The same would apply to any changes one would want to make related to dependencies on substances or other things.
How does one change? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, trying different recipes, throwing out what didn’t work, expanding on what did. For a period of time in my life, I had a lot of “thinking” time on my hands, and many opportunities to see people successfully changing, resisting change, not wanting to change, and failing at change. I saw people make changes, only to fall back into unwanted behaviors, and old, hard-to-break habits.
After time, I was able to get to the heart of the matter, the way that I was able to observe making long lasting changes. This led me to the creation of a model for change that I saw people using without realizing it, and that I have used successfully to make positive changes in my life, and to analyze when I wasn’t successful at making changes.
I change when I become A.W.A.R.E. That’s the name of the model. A.W.A.R.E. What does it mean?
A = Acknowledgment. I see that something needs to change and I acknowledge it. I recognize it and own it as mine.
W = Willingness. I decide that I am willing to change that which I recognize as needing change.
A = Ability. I recognize that what needs to change is based on an old way of looking at something (a paradigm) or of doing something (a habit) and I acquire the ability to do it differently, or to not do it. In other words, I acquire the ability to change. This could take me an hour, a day, even weeks. It might even involve engaging someone to help me through the change, research how to do it differently, or avoid doing it at all.
R = Resistance. I realize that there is resistance to change and I work through how to break through that resistance. I also develop a resistance to fall back into the old way, the old habit.
E – Enablement. Making a change permanent requires practicing it, repeating it until the skill is mastered and becomes part of me. The key is to be able to own the new skill, to make it an integral part of me, so that I don’t even have to think about it, I “Nike” it (Just Do It!).
So, there it is, a simple model, but one that has worked for me.
Now, you are probably saying to yourself, “Easy to describe, hard to do”. And I totally agree. There is a lot of detail and hard work behind the model, which is really the important part that makes the change happen.
I’ll be digging deeper into the model in future posts. I’ll be sharing the details behind what makes the model tick. For example, the ability to make a change, involves a significant level of effort, including training, coaching, mentoring, and other techniques. We will be diving in to that and more in the future.
For now, this is how I have successfully brought about lasting change, in many areas of my life. I continue to use this model on new opportunities for change as well.