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—whether it’s career-related, financial circumstances, or how we think.
Creating change can be challenging, thanks in part to our genetic makeup. “Until the past few generations, most people’s lives stayed very much the same from beginning to end: People grew up where their parents had grown 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 the Inside Out. “Change, when it came, was generally an aberration and a danger.”
And if you perceive change as dangerous, your fight-flight-freeze response—an automatic response that helps you react to perceived threats—may take hold.
You can overcome change aversion and become more changeable. One way to do so is by instilling a catalyst mindset.
The Change Reaction
When faced with change, people tend to question it, wonder why the change is happening, what it means to them, and ponder what life will be like after it. “As people begin to question change, they immediately assume that change will be difficult, costly, or weird,” Andersen says.
- Difficult: You worry about doing new things and how the change may implicate you.
- Costly: You worry the change will cost value—whether time or money—but also intrinsic value like identity, power, reputation, or relationships.
- Weird: You worry the change is simply strange and unnatural.
“If you resist change because you are risk averse, you might start by assessing risk, researching, or planning. Then, enlist help to drive the change,” says Andrea MacKenzie, founder of Lead With Harmony.
But it’s also essential to consider 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 have successfully made a positive change go through five stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
- Pre-contemplation: You are not ready to change and fail to see how the change benefits you.
- Contemplation: You are becoming aware and considering a change—you may assess the pros and cons.
- Preparation: You are committing to change.
- Action: You are taking intentional action toward change.
- Maintenance: You are sustaining change for six months or more.
Although the stages of change seem like a natural progression, you can spend varying amounts of time in each stage, and change is not linear. Therefore, if you fail to change, it’s not because you lack motivation or willpower but because change is more like a spiral, not a straight line.
Understanding change resistance and the stages of change is only part of creating lasting change. You must also work to adjust your mindset. One way to do this is by instilling a catalyst mindset.
A catalyst, by definition, is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction by reducing the activation energy—a person or thing that precipitates an event.
A catalyst mindset is a way of thinking that supports change by inciting action and lowering barriers.
Thought to be synonymous with persuasion, someone with a catalyst mindset doesn’t just see or adapt to change but instead creates it. Catalyst-minded individuals are problem-finders and idea-seekers, with an intense curiosity and ability to challenge others in a thought-provoking way.
Jonah Berger, the author of The Catalyst, How to Change Anyone’s Mind, says removing barriers is the key to a catalyst mindset. “When asked how to change someone’s mind, 99 percent of the answers focus on some version of pushing—presenting facts and evidence, explaining reasons, and convincing,” Berger says. “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 hinder or inhibit change. Here’s how you can REDUCE your barriers to change and instill a catalyst mindset.
- Reactance: When pushed, people resist—so instead of persuading yourself for change, allow for agency and focus on the “ask.” For example, ask yourself, “What will my life be like if this change is successful?”
- Endowment: A form of loss aversion, instead of simply accepting change, aim to find the value. David Butlein, Ph.D., president and founder at BLUECASE Strategic Partners, says, “Resisting change is resisting 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: If change feels too far away—in the rejection region—opposition increases. Make change more manageable by establishing milestones. Consider what steps you can take today that might support your goals tomorrow.
- Uncertainty: Change comes with much uncertainty. Overcome this by making things feel more accessible and identifying barriers to getting started. Ask yourself, “What obstacles must I overcome to effectively make this change?”
- Corroborating Evidence: Corroborating evidence is evidence that strengthens or confirms already existing evidence. If you’re working to make a change, but you are triggered with negative self-talk that seems to be derailing you, return 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?”
Making a change and sticking to it is not easy. But you can increase your chance of success by analyzing what stage of change you’re in and instilling a catalyst mindset to reduce barriers.
Heather Cherry is a freelance health and wellness writer and content marketing coach. She helps businesses create strategic, creative, and conversational messages as well build effective content teams. She has been published in Sleepopolis, SELF, Insider, and author of Market Your A$$ Off.
Read the full article here