Changing Behaviors

Change causes crisis and crisis causes change

In order to be motivated to change, it must be more uncomfortable to stay the same.  Okay, that makes sense, The part many people miss is that the old behaviors served a purpose and were rewarding in some way.  Until you identify the benefits of the old behavior and either find another behavior that has those same benefits (or better ones), you will have difficulty maintaining a change.

Think about resolutions.  Many people want to get in shape.  A noble goal.  However, they fail to plan for how to handle the discomfort, and minimize how rewarding that sofa is after a long day of work.  A good change plan would increase exercise gradually with plenty of recovery time, make it somehow enjoyable (like watching your favorite show on the treadmill), and would make sure to do it either in the morning, or not go home after work where Mr. Sofa will plead with them to stay.

In this section you will learn basic principles of behavior modification and motivational enhancement.

Behavior Modification

Think Pavlov's dog or BF Skinner…. these were two pioneers in the field.   Once you start to understand the basic principles about what makes you tick, it is easier to modify your behavior.

  • What do you find rewarding?
  • How can you stop doing something you like?
  • How can competing responses help you choose a new behavior?

Behavior change is much more effective when you reward new behaviors than when you simply punish, or eliminate old ones.  Think about Fido.  If he gets excited when you come home and everything he does is punished, he is left confused and not sure exactly how he is supposed to greet you.  On the other hand, if you avoid rewarding bad behaviors like jumping, and instead, offer him an option, such as “sit,” then immediately praise that behavior, he will learn that “sit” gets him the affection he desires.

You will learn through practical examples how to modify behavior.

Goal Setting

I love talking about goal setting because so many people do it incorrectly.  Good goals will have good outcomes.  They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Limited.

  • Bad goal:  I want to get in shape this year.
  • Good goal:  I want to be able to run a 5K in 6 months.  Speed is not an issue, I just need to finish.

We will explore how to write good goals, and spend a lot of time identifying pitfalls and how to prevent them.

Motivation Enhancement

Motivation is your get-up-and-go.  When you start to change a behavior, you are probably motivated.  When it gets hard, or other things start coming up that seem to have a higher priority, your motivation wanes.  In this module, you will learn about what motivates you, the 6 types of motivation, how to use mindfulness strategies to stay aware of your motivation levels and what to do when your motivation starts to dwindle (and it will).  Learn more about how to enhance motivation