Need & want to get fit but can’t make the change? ask yourself these two powerful questions
Ever known someone who needs and wants to get fit but won’t take action?
It seems irrational and lazy.
After all, they just need to get on with exercise. Human beings however, aren't that straight forward.
Readiness to change
I was aware of this concept before recently studying Life Coaching.
Years of Personal Training has made it clear that change is rarely linear and logical. The action we take often falls short of what we say and intend to change.
Even a clearly beneficial change, that’ll reduce suffering and increase quality and length of life, still won’t automatically trigger action.
This can be frustrating when you see it happening with someone you care about. It can be equally irritating when you experience it yourself.
Through Life Coaching study I’ve come to realise the value in measuring readiness to change and looking at what lies beneath it. It can be pivotal for making change that feels impossible, possible.
Why though do we lack readiness to change?
The reasons are infinite. Ranging from worry about the cost, to refusal to give up something more enjoyable, to fear of looking foolish. It doesn’t matter if the reasons are likely or unlikely, real or imagined. If they limit progress they’re relevant.
The Readiness Ruler
There’s numerous change process models. They vary in how many stages of change they feature. They’re useful for providing a realistic sense of just how long the process of change can be.
While they may suit organisational change well, there’s a less complex method for measuring personal readiness to change.
The Readiness Ruler is a rating of readiness to change on a scale of 1 to 10. With 10 being the highest possible level of readiness. While 8 or more is good enough to succeed with making change.
The beauty of the Readiness Ruler is it’s quick, easy and clear. Plus, it can be used to measure both an overall change and aspects within that. For example, readiness to change your diet may be at a 6 out of 10, while readiness to give up eating chocolate each night might be a 2 out of 10.
The first powerful question
The first and most obvious question is,
“On a scale of 1 to 10 what is my/your level of readiness to change?”
This question quickly gets to how ready. It takes you from a general feeling of not being ready, to having a specific marker of just how unready.
It indicates how likely making and sustaining the change will be with the current frame of mind and approach. Of course if the answer is 7 or below the idea is to question further…..
The second powerful question
Then comes the really powerful question;
“What would need to happen to increase that readiness to change rating?”
It has 2 major effects.
It triggers thinking about reason(s) for the score being less than 8.
If for instance someone wanted to get fit but had a Readiness Ruler score of only 4, the question may trigger the realisation they’re afraid of getting injured. This could stem from a costly and painful thigh injury from an attempt to get fit 2 years earlier.
Becoming aware of such a barrier instantly puts you in a position where you can do something about it.
The second effect is it shifts thinking to a more solution-focused mindset. Although it does shine light on the problem, it brings focus to change too.
Using that example with fear of getting injured. Part of the response to “What would need to happen to increase that readiness to change rating?” could be, “I’d need to feel confident I won’t get an injury.”
This would naturally flow into the next question “How could you/I do that?”
“I could start by googling ‘ways of exercising that are low injury risk’.”
That may lead to finding that aquarobics and deep water running are effective low injury risk options. Both of which might also appeal to a love of being in water. Looking for local classes to try could be a natural next step.
Note how it’s not an overly personal or probing question, mainly because it doesn’t feature ‘you’ or ‘I’. This means it doesn’t tend to make people defensive. It instead invites the mind to just consider.
It inevitably leads to exploring possible action steps. Often big increases in readiness to change can happen through a few very basic tasks. Even just getting a little more informed can make a real difference.
This whole process isn’t rocket science. It is however effective for getting to the core of things and getting change started.
Taking it step by step and choosing which steps to take
While the question “What would need to happen to increase that readiness to change?” is powerful and can result in dramatic shifts, it’s not always a simple and quick process.
There can be both several aspects to low change readiness, and a very low scoring aspect.
You need to decide what aspect to address based on how much you’re likely able to increase it. An aspect with a score of only 2 will usually be hard to get up to 8. In that case it’d be wise to look at other aspects instead.
Consider the scenario where readiness to change diet is 6/10 while readiness to give up chocolate is only 2/10. The refusal to give up chocolate could be because it’s so enjoyable. Cutting it out could mean feeling deprived of real pleasure. Especially significant if toiling away all day at a job void of joy.
It’s likely there’s another aspect of diet that’ll cause less resentment if changed.
For instance, readiness to change from drinking soft drink to water might be at a 5 due to finding the taste so bland. It may prove that opting for zero calorie cordial instead shifts that to a 9. This could have a flow on effect of upping the overall readiness to change diet from 6 to 8.
Perhaps a vastly improved but sustainable diet could include the nightly chocolate treat. (Losing fat isn't simply about depriving yourself). It’s also possible that with time on a healthier diet, there’s a change in palate and the desire for sweet foods drops. Resulting in chocolate becoming less of a need.
A real life example
Marketing and promoting my business isn’t something I relish.
Much of marketing feels deceptive to me. It seems based largely on exaggerated benefits, half-truths and false promises. Plus, self-promotion goes against my cultural and family conditioning.
Even though I’ve had some great word of mouth referrals I haven’t been able to rely wholly on it.
Earlier this year I wanted and needed more clients. Clearly I needed to do some marketing.
A client encouraged me to put something on the local Facebook community groups pages. Of course, my initial readiness to do so wasn’t high- 6 out of 10.
A month prior I’d say it was only a 4. It’d risen to 6 through both through an increasing need to get more income (I was getting poor!). Plus, listening to the clients’ experience made it feel more possible and worthwhile.
I asked myself “What would need to happen to increase that readiness to change?” The answer I came up with was two-fold.
I needed to understand how the process of posting on the community page worked. Both technically and how to comply with the conditions of the various groups. I wasn’t competent or informed, and needed to be.
In addition to needing to feel assured I wouldn’t be vulnerable to critics, cynics and trolls.
2 obvious courses of action came to mind.
Firstly, look into the conditions of posting business promotions. And figure out how to post a photo and text below. (Simple stuff but I’d barely posted on Facebook)
Secondly, look at the comments made on other business posts. Once I did, it became clear lack of comments was more likely than nasty ones!
My readiness level climbed to 8. I was ready to give it a go.
After a couple of months of effort it paid off in the form of a couple of regular clients.
What marketing was for me could be what exercise is for you
If you’re struggling to start and stick with a fitness routine asking those 2 questions could prove revealing and pivotal.
Perhaps you find exercise monotonous and that’s holding you back. It could be you’ve found it extremely uncomfortable and had deep soreness. Maybe gyms aren’t your scene.
Whatever the barriers to exercise, if you’re prepared to ask and answer a few questions, you can start upping readiness to change.
Often, when you look into it, the situation isn’t as fixed or insurmountable as it seems. It simply takes some investigation, a solution focused mind set and a series of small steps.
You could start now by assessing your readiness to change something relevant to you. Then ask yourself “what would need to happen to increase that readiness to change?”
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