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Growing Old Is Easy, Growing up Is Painful

Growing Old Is Easy, Growing up Is Painful

Ever since we have been able to think, we’ve been looking towards the future. We imagine how we will look when we grow up, the sort of people we are going to become. Without even knowing it, we set these expectations for ourselves because everything seems possible. From a young age we hear time and time again, “you can do anything that you set your mind to.” Untainted by the harshness of the world, we believe it.

The idea of growing older whispers promises of freedom. At this age you’ll be able to drive, at that age you’ll be able to vote. Eventually you’ll go on to pursue a career or a particular lifestyle. You think that when you’re older, you can be whoever you want. As a child I was always very fond of drumming and always wanted to be a drummer. But I was told it’s better for me to focus on my study before I pursue my passion in music. So I knew that I had to wait until I was bigger to be the self-proclaimed drummer I longed to be.

But as we do start to get older, those who have been facing adulthood long before us warn us to enjoy our youth. Take advantage of the freedom that we have now. Freedom? But we thought freedom came with adulthood; when we make the choices for our future. That is because we romanticize the idea of growing older, not growing up. Advantages come with age, but so do responsibility. Sadly, we don’t know until it comes.

Growing old doesn’t always mean growing up

So why the rush? What makes us want to skip ahead in time? The imaginary privilege and advantage I guess.

While we’re young, adults seem to have it all. Throughout growing up we are told to abide by certain restrictions based on our age, such as drinking coffee or dying our hair. There is no actual law stating this, but social norms dictate how old you must be for certain practices.

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Then there are the benchmarks that are dictated by law for certain practices such as gambling, drinking, or driving. Unable to do this at our own free will while “under-aged” we long for a time when we are in charge of our choices.

Growing up should be defined by experience, not age

Let’s face it. Adulthood sucks, and we all know it. How did it get this way? Where did we go wrong? The truth is, adulthood seems to such because the expectation does not match the reality.

Growing up is different than growing old, because getting old is inevitable. The presence of maturity brought on the wisdom and experience is what signifies growing up. Your experiences have shaped you, define the person that you are, and the person you continue to grow into. Maturity is defined by the way how you perceive experiences, how you react to them, self-reflection after the fact, and the way that you carry on after the fact.

Any obstacle or experience is a chance to shape yourself. You only have two choices really, let the outcome make you a stronger, better person; or let it break you. Face responsibility, and sort out a solution. These are actions of a grown-up individual.

The idea “we can do more when we are older” is just an illusion

Just like realizing Santa Clause isn’t real (spoiler alert) we grow up to realize that adulthood really isn’t all that it’s hopped up to be. It’s a hard knock life. Instead of freedom, we get restrictions, lots of it. There are tons of rules and social standards to abide by as an adult; and we are vulnerable to judgment if we dismiss these standards.

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In the working world, you are not judged by who you are as an adult. Instead you are judged by how adult you are. Are you responsible? Organized? Punctual? Articulate? You need to appear and sound like you have it all together. And the older we get, the more responsibilities and expectations get thrown at us. The best part? No one is going to help or show you the way.

You’re an adult, figure it out.

No one really knows how to “adult”

When it comes to adulting, no one really knows what they’re doing. We are all just trying our best. Many people appear to be really good at it, but deep down they are probably questioning themselves as well. The best we can do is ask for advice from our wiser, older friends and family. No one can really tell you what to do in any given situation, but they can only tell you what they would do. We all want something different out of life, therefore we all make different decisions to support our cause. We spend our whole lives trying to figure it out, taking chances and hoping for the best.

Growing up is similar to parenting. No one is ready, and no one really knows what they’re doing. As you grow, you realize all of the corny anecdotes your parents tortured you with hold some truth. You’re actually very much like them. The older you get, the more you start to respect your parents and realize that they are just people doing the best that they can do.

You really need to make time for the things you want to do.

Otherwise they’re not going to happen. Don’t keep telling yourself, “when you get older.” Cause eventually you will realize that time has escaped you, and all you have left are your dreams. The more you age, the faster time seems to go. That is because your time is already consumed.

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Let’s say that you sleep for 8 hours a night, work 8 hours a day. Let’s omit 3 hours for eating, commuting, and showering. Now, you are only left with 5 hours of your day. You’re not as young as you used to be, and you might not feel so energized and motivated to pursue your own interests. It’s difficult to find the time to do the things that interest you when you have a set routine. Don’t rely on a promise of the future. You need to make the time for it now.

Nobody is thinking about you (or that meme you shared).

Now that we’re older, we are consumed by responsibilities. We all are. And that’s why most people are incredibly self-focused. Because we have to be. Times are very different when we were just teenagers, when we had all of the time in the world to just hang around and gossip.

We don’t have the freedom to be so carefree as we age. We have ourselves to look after. Those of us who have spouses and children have even more obligations. “Hanging out” is no longer a priority, instead it’s been replaced with goals and responsibilities. Our attention is directed towards more worldly matters as displayed on the news and the media. Most people share the same opinions and interests as us, so we tend to lose interest in those people and their lives.

Adulthood is a grey area, there is no right and wrong

Life is very straightforward as a child. Adults are constantly telling us the difference between right and wrong. But as we grow up, things are not unidirectional. And things that you may have grown up to believe start to show another side to them. There are two sides to every opinion or fact, and we have to choose which side we stand on.

Example: You are raised to believe the C02 emissions are bad, and very detrimental to the environment. While the former is true, we struggle to have reliable transportation without it. For your information, this conflict is known as Cognitive Dissonance.

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Working for your dream= 99% suffering + 1% chance to succeed

When we’re young, it’s so easy to picture ourselves exactly where we want to be. Our parents and teachers encourage us to chase these dreams because of the benefits. If we decide to be a doctor, then we get to save lives. If we decide to be an architect, we can design beautiful buildings and bridges so people can travel and live comfortably.

What they don’t tell you is how hard it is to achieve these dreams. It takes tons of work and self-sacrifice, and in the end might not work out. This is the part that adults like to leave out. What they should tell us, is that if we want to be a doctor then we need to study super hard, no holidays, you need to work shifts in the hospital while you study which makes it very difficult to maintain a work/life balance. And worst of all, you can’t save all of your patients.

These days we can’t blame ourselves for giving up so easily. We were led to believe that if we wanted someone hard enough it would be ours, but we were never shown how to work for it. We were never told how much suffering comes along with chasing a dream.

Growing old is easy, but growing up is painful

To be the best person you can be, you need to experience as much as you can. Take those experiences, and let them shape you into being stronger, smarter, and better. Things are going to constantly blindside you, so learn to adapt. Keep your mind open, always be receptive to more knowledge. The moment that you stop learning is the moment that you stop growing.

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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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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