By Heather Cherry—
Change is inevitable. From economics, the environment to politics, sociology and organizations, our world is changing faster than ever. And personally, everyone has something they want to change, be it career, financial circumstances or how we think.
Creating change can be challenging, partly due to our genetic makeup. “Until the last few generations, most people’s lives remained pretty much the same from beginning to end: people grew up where their parents grew up, did the work their parents had done, believed and knew the things previous generations had believed and known ,” says Erika Andersen, author of Change from within. “Change, when it came, was generally an anomaly and a danger.”
And if you see change as dangerous, your fight-flight-freeze response – an automatic response that helps you respond to perceived threats – can catch on.
You can overcome aversion to change and become more changeable. One way to do this is to instill a catalyst mindset.
The change response
When people are faced with change, they tend to question it, wonder why the change is happening, what it means for them, and think about what life will be like afterward. “When people start doubting change, they immediately assume that change will be difficult, costly, or weird,” says Andersen.
- Difficult: You worry about doing new things and how the change may involve you.
- Duration: You worry that the change will cost value – be it time or money – as well as intrinsic value such as identity, power, reputation or relationships.
- Foreign: You worry that the change is just strange and unnatural.
“If you resist change because you’re risk averse, you might start by assessing risk, researching, or planning, then get help to drive the change,” says Andrea MacKenzie, founder of Lead With Harmony.
But it is also essential to take into account the stages of change. Developed in the 1970s by researchers James O. Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) explains how change occurs in five stages. Prochaska found that people who successfully make positive change go through five stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
- Preview: You are not ready to change and do not see what the change will bring you.
- contemplation: You become aware and consider a change – you can assess the pros and cons.
- Preparation: You are committed to change.
- Action: You deliberately take action toward change.
- Maintenance: You keep up the change for six months or more.
While the phases of change may seem like a natural progression, you can spend different amounts of time in each phase, and change is not linear. Therefore, if you don’t change, it’s not because you lack motivation or willpower, but because change is more of a spiral than a straight line.
Understanding change resistance and the stages of change is only part of creating lasting change. You also need to work on adjusting your mindset. One way to do this is to instill a catalyst mindset.
A catalyst, by definition, is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction by reducing its activation energy – a person or thing that speeds up an event.
A catalyst mindset is a way of thinking that supports change by driving action and lowering barriers.
Someone with a catalyst mindset, which is thought to be synonymous with persuasion, doesn’t just see or adapt to change, but instead creates it. Catalyst-oriented individuals are problem seekers and idea seekers, with an intense curiosity and an ability to challenge others in thought-provoking ways.
Jonah Berger, the author of The catalyst, how to change someone’s mind, says breaking down barriers is key to a catalyst mindset. “When asked how to change someone’s mind, 99 percent of the answers focus on some form of pushing: presenting facts and evidence, explaining reasons, and persuasion,” says Berger. “This focuses on the desired outcome, and we tend to forget what’s preventing the change.”
Berger says Reactance, Endowment, Distance, Uncertainty, and Corroborating Evidence (REDUCE) are five roadblocks that impede or impede change. Here’s how to REDUCE your barriers to change and create a catalyst mindset.
- Reactance: When pushed, people resist – so instead of convincing yourself for change, allow agency and focus on ‘asking’. For example, ask yourself, “What will my life be like if this change is successful?”
- donation: A form of loss aversion, instead of simply accepting change, try to find the value. David Butlein, Ph.D., president and founder of BLUECASE Strategic Partners, says, “Resistance to change is resistance to reality. Instead of working so hard to keep things the same, how can you befriend this fact of life? Declare your vision and adopt a learning mindset.”
- Distance: When change seems too far away – in the realm of rejection – the opposition mounts. Make change more manageable by setting milestones. Consider what steps you can take today that can support your goals tomorrow.
- Insecurity: Change brings a lot of uncertainty. Overcome this by making things more accessible and identifying barriers to getting started. Ask yourself, “What obstacles do I need to overcome to make this change effective?”
- Corroborating Evidence: Supporting evidence is evidence that reinforces or confirms pre-existing evidence. If you’re trying to change something but you’re triggered by negative self-talk that seems to be derailing you, get back to the facts. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m telling myself based on the facts or is it based on my perception of the situation?”
Implementing and maintaining change is not easy. But you can increase your chances of success by analyzing what stage of change you are in and providing a catalyst mindset to reduce barriers.
Heather Cherry is a freelance health and wellness writer and content marketing coach. She helps companies create strategic, creative and conversational messages and build effective content teams. She has been published in Sleepopolis, SELF, Insider and author of Market your A$$ discount.