Most people who come to therapy are seeking positive, transformative change in some area(s) of their life.
But what’s also true is that, despite a longing for change, many people simply don’t follow through on this. So what’s the cause and how do we prevent this?
One of the primary reasons people gravitate to professional advice but don’t follow through on it is that their “why” – in other words, their motivation – is not clearly identified, consciously reflected upon, and supported during the information consumption and behavioral change phase required to sustain long-term change.
In other words, the initial impulse for most of us to want to change our bad habits is high: we want to lose weight, be kinder to our spouse, invest more for retirement, quit screens before bedtime, and, following these impulses, we readily turn to professional advice for more data and information about how to change.
But when we are told we need to make lifestyle and behavioral changes, many people will abandon the advice and revert back to old, more familiar patterns.
Because changing our habits is hard, it takes time, energy, conscious effort, and repetition.
It took a long time for your habits to form as they are, it will take some time to form new ones.
And, in my experience as a therapist, most people will give up on new habit formation early on if they have not clearly identified their “why” or source of motivation for changing the habits.
Clearly articulating and consciously reflecting on your motivation can be the “mental and emotional fuel” you need to keep persisting in practicing new behaviors when you want to quit and go back to the old, familiar ways.
One of the ways I help my clients develop new and maintain newer, more healthy and functional habits is to have them clearly articulate their “why” through the following questions:
- What are one or two reasons you’re trying to make this change?
- Who will you be if you can make this change?
- How will you show up differently in your life?
- What’s the cost if you don’t make this change?
- What do you stand to lose?
- How can you reconnect back to your why – your source of motivation – when it feels hard to change your habits and you want to quit?
- What mental or emotional touchstone do you need to keep persisting?
- Who can be a support to you in your life in helping you recall your why when you want to quit? Your spouse? Therapist? Best friend?
- What can they help say to remind you of your why?
Another major factor in abandoning positive, attempted change is a lack of accountability. If you would like support in being accountable to the positive changes you would like to make in your life, please feel free to reach out to us to set up a complimentary consult call so we can match you with the best therapist for your situation.