How can you get yourself motivated to make a change when you’re not entirely committed yet?
In the early stages of the change process, it can be helpful to take a step back and ask yourself, ‘How serious am I about making this change?’
This exercise is designed to help you in this stepping-back process.
Here are 4 tips for getting the most out of this exercise:
1. Weigh the pros and cons of doing nothing vs. the pros and cons of ‘making a change’.
It may seem redundant to consider the pros and cons of both, but the responses are often different. For example, if you want to exercise more, there are likely unique pros and cons involved with exercising (e.g., pro = get healthy, con = get too hot and sweaty) and not exercising (e.g., pro = have extra time, con = feel guilty).
2. Look at this issue with fresh eyes.
When you’ve been dealing with something for a while, it’s tempting to conclude that you’ve considered all sides of it and there’s nothing new to learn. But for this exercise to work, you need to temporarily suspend any such doubts. Be honest with yourself and look at the issue from multiple perspectives. Consider how your decision to change (or not) will impact your health, work/home life, and relationships.
3. Take some time to reflect on your responses.
After you complete the exercise, let it simmer for a few days and see what comes up for you. New ideas about pros and cons of changing vs. doing nothing may occur to you.
4. Gauge your progress.
Take the 3-question Readiness for Change Quiz and get a sense for where you’re at in the change process right now. Then come back and take it again a week or two after completing the exercise. Have your scores changed?
If your motivation to change is still low, ask yourself what it would take for you to really get serious about making this change? What would need to happen first? How could you start working on that now? It can also be helpful to consider how you might maximize the pros (e.g., by rewarding yourself for progress made) and minimize the cons (e.g.,starting slow and building up) of making this change in your life.
So, give this exercise a try and let us know how it goes in the comments below!
LaBrie, J. W., Pedersen, E. R., Earleywine, M., & Olsen, H. (2006). Reducing heavy drinking in college males with the decisional balance: Analyzing an element of Motivational Interviewing. Addictive Behaviors, 31, 254-263.
LaBrie, J. W., Pedersen, E. R., Thompson, A. D., & Earleywine, M. (2008). A brief decisional balance intervention increases motivation and behavior regarding condom use in high-risk heterosexual college men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 330-339.
Prochaska, J. O., Velicer, W. F., Rossi, J. S., Goldstein, M. G., Marcus, B. H., Rakowski, W., … & Rossi, S. R. (1994). Stages of change and decisional balance for 12 problem behaviors. Health Psychology, 13, 39-46.