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People Don’t Succeed by Luck, They Succeed by Doing a Lot of Self Reflection

People Don’t Succeed by Luck, They Succeed by Doing a Lot of Self Reflection

How often do you set aside time to really think about yourself?

If you’re like most of us, rarely.

Self-reflection is the process of looking at yourself, your life and your experiences.

It’s been shown to strengthen your emotional intelligence, help you act with more integrity, and boost your self-confidence. [1]

Even if you’ve never deliberately practiced self-reflection, you probably have at least some experience with it.

Here are some examples of self-reflection that you’re probably familiar with:

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  • New Year’s Day. Most of us spend some time reflecting on each year as it comes to an end, and making resolutions to improve ourselves in the future.
  • Birthdays. Many of us use our birthday as a time to reflect on our lives so far, and think about what we still want to achieve.
  • Job applications. Applying for jobs forces us to lay out all of our skills and experiences in a clear and linear way, which can be an eye-opening experience.

But do we have to wait for the new year’s day or birthdays to review ourselves? If we really want to improve ourselves, why can’t we have such self-reflection every month, or every week, or even every day?

Are you ready to start improving yourself with a deliberate self-reflection practice?

Great!

Just follow the simple tips below.

Questions to ask during self-reflection

To do self reflection effectively, the best way is to ask yourself questions.

What are my strength and weaknesses?

Identifying where your strengths and weaknesses lie helps you solve problems and make good decisions.

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For example, if you know that you’re great at organisation, you might volunteer to help put on an event at work and get on your boss’s good side.

If you don’t work well under pressure, you’ll know not to take a job as head chef at a busy restaurant.

However, remember that your strengths and weaknesses aren’t set in stone. Want to change something about yourself?

You can.

Put together a plan, set measurable goals, and take it one small step at a time. There aren’t many problems you can’t solve this way.

What have been my greatest achievements?

Identifying your biggest achievements shows you where your values lie. Are you most proud of something to do with work, family, or education? Do you want to focus future efforts in the same area, or shift to something new?

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What have been my biggest failures?

Failures can be a wonderful learning experience. Gently acknowledge a time something went wrong, and ask yourself why? Low self-confidence? Lack of planning? Fear?

Now consider what you could do differently to ensure you don’t make the same mistake twice.

What skills do I have?

Making a big list of your skills is a great way to see how you’re doing. Are your skills where you want them to be? If not, commit to learning something new, taking a course, or trying out a new activity.

Are your skills equally balanced. Divide them into categories, including:

  • Work
  • Hobbies
  • Spirituality
  • Health
  • Exercise
  • Social

Are the lists equally balanced, or are you lacking skills in certain areas of your life?

What problems do I have right now?

Self-reflection deals with good and bad. Ask yourself what the biggest source on unhappiness is in your life right now.

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It could be:

  • Your job
  • Your partner
  • Your living environment
  • Your finances

Once you’ve identified the biggest problem, you can start looking for ways to solve it.

How could I improve my life?

Writing a short passage describing your ideal day is a great way to generate ideas for this question. Focus on all the small details, like your home, what you’re eating, your hobbies, your routine, etc.

Then compare your ideal day to an day in your current life, and think about how you can bring the two closer together.

Common challenges during self-reflection

You might encounter some of the following problems when practicing self-reflection:

  • You forget to do it.
  • You’re not sure what to reflect on.
  • You’re afraid to be honest with yourself.
  • You feel embarrassed.

How to stay committed to self-reflection

To ensure you stay committed to self-reflection, try the following techniques:

  • Add a weekly or monthly ‘reflection date’ to your calendar.
  • Write a few sentences about why you want to keep up with self-reflection. Read it when you start to lose interest.
  • Be kind to yourself. Self-reflection isn’t about being too hard on yourself, it’s about helping you to be the best you can be.
  • Keep self-reflection private. It’s hard to be honest if you’re worried about the opinions of others. Don’t feel you need to share your practice.

Ready to stop moving through life on autopilot? Start your self-reflection practice today.

Featured photo credit: The Crunchies! via flickr.com

Reference

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Eloise Best

Eloise is an everyday health expert and runs My Vegan Supermarket, a vegan blog and database of supermarket products.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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