Muthoni a 35 years old mother of 2 had been experiencing challenges in her relationships, for several years. "Difficult to understand, controlling, selfish,moody, cold" are some of the adjectives people often use when describing her.
At the peak of her career, she came to appreciate that her attitude may cause serious damages in her growth.
 
"If we don't #change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living." Gail Sheehy.
As accurate as this quote may be, embracing and sustaining change is not a walk in the park. Change is hard. It means altering (more often than not) decades of #believes, #perceptions, #experiences that formed our very own #identity. The ideology of change tends to have a negative correlation as it assumes that "something is wrong with us, and everything we once believed in was incorrect."
Depending on ones #personality, some may embrace change faster than others. People usually accept changes that they desire (e.g.: a bigger car, a bigger house), and not those imposed on them (e.g.: behavioural change, responsibility...). 
In addition, people change when they understand the "why".  Ever heard individuals complain that their lives are constantly going around a circle? Well, unless they make the decision to break away from that circle, nothing will ever change.
 
Throughout my career i have come to appreciate that they are 8 stages to change.
 
20201029 003153We will take Muthoni's example to contextualize the different stages she went through, and help you analyse where you could possibly be at. There is nothing permanent except change, and change comes with discomforts. Being aware of these stages can help you have a realistic perspective of your current situation and motivate you to see change as a positive factor in your growth.
 
1. #Awareness: As the name implies, this is the stage where most people begin to appreciate the issues they are going through. Muthoni, for example, became aware of her problems through the criticisms of her loved ones, and ending of several relationships. She tried to deny it for many years but when the issue begun to affect her work and children, she became more aware of the gravity of the situation.
 
2. #Exploration: The exploration stage is the stage where most people begin to consider the benefits of change but are still very hesitant into taking the first steps towards moving forward. At this stage, Muthoni attempted to explore the problem in depth, in her own way. She wondered if they were indeed some truth to the accusations, or if they were mere attacks from her entourage. She convinced herself that the problem may not be as big as people made it appear.
 
3. #Action: Once her desire to change became greater than the desire to remain the same, Muthoni begun to take the appropriate actions to change her status. She looked around for a good #therapist and committed to her weekly sessions.  She gained clarity and focus, and begun to understand the #behavior she adopted, and the learning that led to the behavior.
 
4. #Evaluation: After having made the first step to see a therapist, Muthoni evaluated the idea of the outcome of the change. Even though she was excited at the thought of "what could be", she was still hesitant about putting them into perspective. It is a stage filled with reflection and trials- some type of push and pull. In certain cases, it involves giving enough space for the person to adapt and adjust.
 
5. #Satisfaction: At this stage, Muthoni moved from "evaluating" an idea to "living" the idea. Individuals who reach this stage begin to replace negative habits with more positive, and goal-oriented actions. Muthoni was pleased by the changes she made and the results they had on her and her loved ones. She made the decision to continue on that path.
 
6. #Relapse: 6 months later, Muthoni was faced with a situation that tempted her beyond her ability.  Because old habits die hard, Muthoni relapsed, got disappointed with herself, and felt into depression.
 
7. #Maintenance: Aware of the triggers that led to her relapse, Muthoni put in place countermeasures to reduce the likelihood of falling into past traps. She understood that there is no success without failure, and evaluated the gap to maintain the commitment.
 
8. #Innate: Practice makes perfect. The change became new habits. Muthoni was able to sustain her transformation without falling back into negative habits.
In a perfect world, most people would have ended their behavior change at the satisfaction level. However, since we live in an imperfect world, this is not the case. Think about an alcoholic who has gone to rehab for many years, and still does not progress. Or perhaps an employee who misses various opportunities to climb the ladder simply because of her lack of interpersonal skills. Interesting enough, one can stop drinking, and social skills are not a function of personality.
Anyone can adapt and adjust. But, if you are not excited about change, your problems will be excited about your relapse. Not all changes are successful.
 
As you determine where you are in the stages of change, the most important element is not the fact that you may relapse or not, but rather how ready you are to take that first step towards improving your life- towards growth.
 
Remember, the cave you fear to enter has the treasure.
 
#emmanuellaaboa