Last week, one of my colleagues disagreed with my motivator, arguing that we were more likely to say that things couldn’t change simply as an excuse for not changing. Of course, the wisdom part of the serenity prayer is knowing the difference between what can and can’t be changed in our lives.
Being in education should, by default, mean that we believe in and are committed to change. We believe that education can change lives for the better, and most of us have seen evidence of that.
Still, many of us don’t make needed changes in our lives, and we have to admit that it’s because change is hard. We tend to blame others for our lack of change. During the years, I’ve heard the following reasons for why people haven’t lost weight: They have kids. They have spouses. They don’t have spouses. They have time-consuming jobs that won’t let them get to the gym. They have annoying colleagues that drive them to eat out of frustration. They have mothers who won’t let them not eat a brownie.
You get the picture. The one thing the excuses ignore is that other people with the very same problem have lost weight.
The other equally wrong excuse for not changing is always blaming yourself. And, if you’re like me, you’ve probably done your share of saying things like this as well: I have no willpower. I’m just lazy. I’m just useless when it comes to working out. And so on.
But research shows that’s really not true either.
Sure, we’re the only ones who can change our habits, but it helps to have a structure in place that ensures we’re not just depending on willpower. So what would be some aspects of such a structure?
- care about this change.
- learn how to make the change by learning
- smaller skills that will build up to the big change we want to make.
- how to work with setbacks.
- to build up willpower.
- surround ourselves with supportive people, or, at least, with people who won’t actively try to sabotage our efforts.
- build in rewards along the way, and
- modify the environment to make things easier.
These components are important whether we’re tying to lose weight or facilitate change in underachieving students. I recommend the book Change Anything by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler for more concrete examples on how to make changes. At their website, you can also take an assessment that shows your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to making a change.