It’s a new year! Praise God for hope and change. Ask yourself, what is it this new year that needs to change? Maybe you want to lose those 10 pounds, quit smoking, limit social media, work on being more patient, etc. We all have something we want to change and need that extra push to do it. But change is not that easy.

Often what happens is that we start the change process and quickly lose steam. Yuck, another failure. We think, why even bother? Why is this so hard? Maybe you haven’t accurately assessed if you are really ready to make a change. Change might be a good idea conceptually, but readiness to change makes the difference. So, before you diet for the 40th time, or try to limit your screen time once again, ask two important questions.

The first question is, how important is the change? Be honest. Are you doing this because someone else thinks you should, or because you feel guilty? To assess importance of a change, rate it on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being not important at all and 10 being the most important. If your rating is low (below a 5), you aren’t ready. Lack of importance means change is a low priority. It’s a set up for failure. For example, I asked a patient if he wanted to quit smoking. He said, “Not really, but my wife wants me too.” The more we talked, the more he told me that quitting smoking was not an important issue for him. He wasn’t ready to give up smoking with all the stress he was experiencing. He rated the importance as a 3.

The second question is, how confident are you that you can make a change? Your motivation to change is very important, but if you lack confidence to make the change, it is a set up for failure. To assess your confidence, use that same 1 to 10 scale. If your confidence number is low, change will be hard to make. Let’s use our patient example again. Patient #2 tells me giving up smoking is a 9 out of 10 on the scale of importance. He really wants to stop. But, he rated his confidence to quit a 3 out of 10. His reason for low confidence was due to all his previous failed efforts to stop smoking. He needed a plan for success because he didn’t want to fail again. And that plan included identifying all the barriers and challenges to quitting.

Whatever it is that you want to change, it needs to be important and you need to feel confident to make it happen. Otherwise, you probably are not ready to make a change. One way to increase your readiness is to make a list of pros and cons for making a change. The pros should outweigh the cons. And the cons need to be considered, as they relate to your confidence.

And remember, pray and ask God to help you change. You have the power of the Holy Spirit in you to help with confidence. God in us is a powerful change agent. If change is important, don’t get discourage or give up. If confidence is your issue, enlist the power of the Holy Spirit along with a good plan to overcome the barriers to change. And remember, most people don’t change in a straight line, meaning there will be ups and downs related to that change. The key is to not give up. If you relapse, get right back up. Identify what got in your way of success and try again.

New Year, New You: Make a change

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