The fourth stage of the Transtheoretical Model of Change is Action. We have thought, planned and prepared. Now we carry out the plan. This is where the work begins, whether we are enacting a new time management plan, a personal wellness plan, or a company-wide reorganization. Here are a few vital elements of the Action Phase...
#1) Follow the Plan
It can be tempting to rush in with the confidence of having a good plan, support and preparation, and in doing so neglect the plan. This is rarely a problem for people with “Type-A” personality styles. It is more likely to be an issue for people with “Type-B” personality styles who have more fluid approaches.
#2) Make Necessary Adjustments
Change shakes things up, flushing out new factors that may not have been considered. New resources may be needed. New barriers may be uncovered, requiring some creative problem solving. This is rarely a problem for our Type-B colleagues who thrive on troubleshooting. It is more challenging for Type-A folks who may be tempted to stick to an ineffective plan instead of risking the relative unknown. In the end though, any adjustments that impact the larger process need to become part of an adjusted plan.
#3) Ask for Help
If you have effectively prepared, you have identified at least one source of change-positive support. If the going gets rough, go to them for support. If its a matter of lack of knowledge or resources, find people who can have what your need and ask them for help.
That being said, one of my blog readers asked me what they should do if they don’t have any effective sources of support. Maybe there isn’t anyone who has a good understanding of your situation and the change you are trying to make. Maybe your work environment has gotten too toxic for internal support and external support is not provided. Regardless of why, one solution is as close as the nearest internet connection. Online forums can be a great place to find others who have faced similar challenges. Just make sure to consider the level of expertise and/or applicable experience of those offering advice. Another option to consider is hiring your own professional coach or therapist.
Sometimes the promised sources of support fall short. Sometimes the boss who initiated the change suddenly loses momentum just as things are starting to work. Sometimes our most vocal Cheerleaders turn into nay-sayers, or tempt us back into the comfort of old behaviors. Therapists call this “Change... No change back.” As I mentioned in the Contemplation post, we did things “the old way” for a reason. Sometimes those we are looking to for support prefer something about our old ways as well. Communication with our support people is important to find out what is going on.
#4) Go Get ‘Em Tiger!
If you have done everything you can do to prepare, the only thing left to do is believe in yourself and go do it. I hope that things happen mostly according to plan and any challenges will be solvable. If not, its time to go back to the drawing board, put any new factors on the table, and find the additional resources necessary to address them.
Flagging commitment to change (in ourselves and others) may be due to obvious causes like inadequate resources or it could be something outside of our conscious awareness. If you find yourself resisting your change plan “for no good reason” it may benefit you to take some time to dig a little deeper. A consultant, coach, therapist or highly insightful support person can help you find self-knowledge and solutions you haven’t considered.
Next Step… Maintenance
We need to continue to shore up the changes that we have worked to make. It’s easy to slip back into old, known patterns. We will talk about some of the common causes and solutions for backsliding.