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There is no doubt, we have all tried to change something in our life. Whether it was losing weight, sleeping better, eating healthier or moving more. Did it work? Has it lasted or have you slipped back into old habits?

Angry-Cat-Meme-No-14A well-respected lecturer in the area of behavioural change and well being has explained that for long lasting change to occur there are four criteria that need to be met:

1) Discontent
2) Vision/Dreams/Goals
3) Education
4) Continuous deliberate action

Discontent
It is very important to realize that changing a behavior (such as inactivity) will not just happen because you know you should. It definitely will not happen just because a fitness professional tells you to or if your partner mentioned that you are putting on weight. Even though we all wish it were easy, it’s not that simple.

Change needs discontentment. You need to be unhappy about the behavior or the consequences of it. Why? Because it means that you deem it to be truly important. If deep down you don’t think it is as important as everything else that is going on in your world, then the change will not last. You may be able to start but all the other important aspects may slowly start taking over again.

Take this common example: You have been warned by your GP that your blood glucose levels are rising and you are at risk of developing diabetes if you don’t do something. They advise that you should look to exercise more and eat less. Whilst this scares you into healthy behaviours for a little while, it isn’t that tangible and while it may make you unhappy at the time, it is not in the forefront of your mind.

Wind this forward 3 years and your doctor informs you that you are now diabetic. You have to start taking medication and pricking your finger to measure your blood glucose levels 1-2 per day. This makes you unhappy and every day (maybe every few hours) you think about it. It is this importance that can truly allow long term change.

Now what happens if you don’t want to get to that stage before you are in pain or diagnosed with a disease? Well, think about what it is that makes you unhappy and why you may really want to change. Really think WHY! It has to be internally driven. You need the other three criteria, but if it is not intrinsically important to you, then the change in behaviour may not last.

Next week we will discuss how you need a vision to change, in order to make your life better.

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