Even with the promise of a better future, most people that come to see a life coach still find it
incredibly challenging to overcome the downward pull of their past habits and behaviours. The
question we must then ask is, why? Why do we struggle to change? This article will investigate what
change is, why it is hard to achieve, and what effective methods can be used to create sustainable
In this context, change means the ability to alter one’s life to better suit their needs based on
internal (one’s own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs) and/or external (what others say or feel about
them) feedback. Prochaska and DiClemente’s (1986) model called “The Cycle of Change” will be
demonstrated as it shows how people grapple with change. Be aware that each step also offers the
opportunity for the person to back out of the change process. Below we will use an example of a
person realising they need to lose weight for the end-of-year beach holiday.
The Cycle of Change model looks like this:
Up until this point this person was not inclined to change or lose weight (precontemplation), but
recently they have noticed that their clothes seem much tighter and they feel ugly in the mirror
(contemplation). Something must change (preparation). This person signs up with a trainer at their
gym to get things going (action), does well for the first 2 weeks (maintenance), and then starts to slip
back into old habits. Eventually the whole gym thing fizzles out and they are back where they started
The strategy below will help to equip you with the tools necessary to create lasting change.
Start with the WHY
Habits become so deeply ingrained that a person doesn’t even realise they are “knee-deep and
sinking”. Habits are patterns of behaviour that are reliable, dependable, and predictable… And that
have tempting rewards! Everything the brain loves!
Your first mission is to clearly state why this change that you would like to have is so important to
you. Your why must create a thirst, a deep sense of passion, and a determination that will barrel
through any obstacle in its way. Start defining why your goal is important to you!
Then look at the WHAT
The What is that “tempting reward” I mentioned earlier. All our bad habits promise us rewards.
Therefore, what “rewards” are you willing to give up in pursuit of change that your current lifestyle
is promising you? Something’s gotta give! You have not changed your life, because on a
subconscious level you have not been prepared to give up those rewards. Maybe your reward is that
first sip of wine after a long day or getting to sleep an extra hour in the morning. Find your What!
Then look at the HOW
The how will focus on the strategies you will implement when the rewards of your old habits come
whispering in your ear to make you abandon your progress and go back to your old habits. How will
you not only achieve your goal, but blast through all the obstacles that Will get in your way?…
Especially when you are at your weakest. How will you ensure that nothing will stop you? It’s time to
come up with a game-plan that covers how you will stay on track when: you feel stressed, you lose
motivation, your results start to plateau, and/or when others are telling you to quit.
And finally, look at the WHEN
Decide when you are going to start. 99% of the work needed to creating lasting change is getting
your mind on board. Nothing and no one can stop a person who is 100% determined to create
change in their life. Such a person needs the change more than they need things to stay the same,
fore to stay the same would be more soul-destroying than to venture out into the unknown in
search of change. Decide now, because no one can, or will do it for you.
… But do NOT
Try winging it and doing it when and/or if you feel like it. It will wobble for a week and then
completely disappear. The well-known Professor of psychology, Jordan Peterson said, “You need a
Create a flexible routine that accommodates for unforeseen disruptions. Creating change will
require consistency, diligence, and perseverance. You must force out the old habits by applying
yourself to the new habits for as long as it takes to stick. It must become a part of your lifestyle
which takes time. This will develop resilience and inner strength that will help you achieve your goal.
You can do this! Believe in yourself!
Thanks for reading,
Donovan – Life Coach