Answers In Love

Winning at Life God's Way

6 Steps to Finally Making the Change You Want

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People say leopards don’t change their spots. True, but we’re not leopards. People change.

Can you think of some change you’d like to make to improve your life? Have you struggled to make that happen? It helps when you understand the change process.

While miraculous transformations happen, most change occurs over time in a series of six stages. Here’s how the stages unfolded  when I made a small change and Greg made a big one.

My Small Change. 

It took me two years to start taking a recommended eye vitamin on a regular basis. Originally I took it once in a blue moon. I eventually graduated to once-in-a-while before finally taking it every day.

Greg’s Big Change.

Greg worked long hours, cheated on his wife and moved in with another woman. He  came to regret his choices, turned his life around and rebuilt  his marriage.

I changed a habit. Greg changed his life. Small and big changes happen in the same way if we work our way through all six stages of change:

Six Stages of Change

As you read about these stages, note the internal nature of Stages 1-4. These produce no observable changes in behavior

Stage One: I don’t have a problem.

Small: My doctor said the expensive vitamin “might” help. I didn’t want to invest in something unproven or take yet another supplement at bedtime. I saw no need to change.

Big: Greg resented his wife’s requests for his time and attention. He blamed her for interfering with his work. He valued career success above all. He thought his choices made sense.

      Stage Two: I have a problem, but I don’t plan to change.

Small: I knew I probably should take the vitamin but didn’t want the hassle. I preferred to take my chances by ignoring my doctor’s recommendation.

Big: Six months after Greg moved out he sensed his mistake. However, he didn’t plan to do anything about it. He considered the damage irreversible.

Stage Three: I have a problem and I’m thinking about changing.

Small: I felt more and more uneasy about not taking the vitamin. I knew my doctor suggested the supplement for a reason, but I procrastinated.

Big: Greg recognized the damage he’d done to himself and his family. He talked to God. He started to wonder if reconciliation could happen. Still, he did nothing.

Stage Four: I have a problem and I’m making a plan to change.

Small: I finally devised a plan to keep the eye vitamin by my toothbrush and take it as part of my morning routine. I decided to work the cost into my budget.

Big: Greg decided to contact those in touch with his wife and learn if she might be open to talking. With encouragement, he began to plan a way to move forward.

       Stage Five: I’m working my plan.

Small: My compliance was hit and miss for a while. Over time, I began taking the vitamin more frequently.

Big: Greg contacted his wife, sought forgiveness and proposed a plan for reconciliation. His wife accepted his apology and proposal. Greg got needed help and made healthy lifestyle changes.

Stage Six: I’m maintaining my change.

Small: Today I take my eye vitamins almost daily. If I miss a day, I don’t worry. I get back on track.

Big: Greg now lives invested in his marriage. He responds to marital conflict by problem solving instead of blaming and running. He lives with a humble, teachable attitude as he pursues maturity and relationship health.

Four Principles To Remember

1. Change takes time.

  1. Internal change occurs before changes in outward behavior. Don’t give up too soon. Hang in there during the early stages when you can’t see external change.

    …through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12)

2. First efforts usually falter.

When you fail, try again. If you’re asking someone else to change and you don’t see   quick results, repeat your request. They might be getting ready to change on the inside.

              …tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven        character…  (Romans 5:3-4)

3. Everybody needs help

Both Greg and I received encouragement to do the right thing. Ask God to help you make needed changes. Enlist the help of encouraging others.

  …but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)

4. Change can happen!

 Believe in the capacity of yourself and others to grow and change. What you envision matters (we’re not leopards)!

Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13).

Your Next Step:

I hope knowing about the stages of change will help you achieve the changes you want. Which principles to remember can help you right now? Let me know!

 

 

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About Cheryl Savageau

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

9 Replies

  1. Super info Cheryl – thanks!

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      Hope it helps Deb.

  2. Rae Ellen

    Very informative I can see myself in various stages in different areas. Keep up the good work😊

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      We’re still growing and changing, eh childhood friend?

  3. Deonna

    Thanks friend. Timing is everything……well, God’s timing is. Blessings to you and Charlie. Miss you both. 💞

    1. Cheryl Savageau

      So glad to hear from you Deonna. Glad if timing worked : )

  4. Cheryl Wissmann

    A very valuable post! Thank you for sharing your wisdom/experience/education with us all. Cheryl W

  5. Kristin F

    Very informative post, Cheryl.

Leave a Reply to Cheryl Wissmann Cancel reply