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Part II: Ensuring Successful Change > The Five Ps of Successful Change

Chapter 3. The Five Ps of Successful Change

Any change, large or small, is challenging. For many people, significant change occurs only after some traumatic experience. You don’t have to wait for a traumatic event to trigger change, however. You do need to be prepared for change in order to ensure that change will be successful. The following guidelines will help to guarantee any successful changes you wish to make.

  1. Protection. Change is often scary! Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution and failed to keep it? One reason we don’t change, even when we truly want to, is fear. Often our fear is vague and unidentified, but it is enough to sabotage making a change. Protection can help you stick with a commitment to change. Here are some protection suggestions:

    Start your change in your safest environment.

    Change one thing at a time—slow and easy does it.

    Whenever you feel unsure or anxious, answer the following questions:

    “What’s the worst that can happen?”

    “What’s the probability that it will happen?”

    “What can I do to prevent it or lower the probability?”

  2. Potency. Change is an active process, not a passive one. To activate your personal power, it is necessary to invest some mental effort, emotional involvement, and physical activity to changing. You can learn to tap into your potency if you do the following:

    Define your change goal in simple, active, positive words.

    Write your change goal and post it where you see it daily.

    Imagine yourself practicing your change goal and visualize yourself doing it well.

    Tell yourself daily, “I can…,” “I will…,” and “I am…”

  3. Permission. Each of us requires permission to change. Be sure to give yourself permission, and get permission from significant others in your life who will be affected by your changes. Without their permission and support, you may not succeed.

    Tell each person what you plan to do and why. Ask each, “Is that okay with you?” Most significant others will appreciate your consideration of their involvement with your changes. Most will support you when you ask. If someone says no, determine the reason for the reluctance. It might be an important issue to explore and could help you redefine your change goal.

    You do not need permission to change from everyone who is important in your life, but having it will ease the pressure on you and normally result in a better support system. Successful people know to accept the help and support of others!

  4. Practice. Whether learning to ride a bicycle, program a computer, play a musical instrument, or use assertive behavior, an intellectual comprehension of the concepts is not all it takes. (Sorry, all you thinkers!) To become skillful with any behavior requires practice. A great deal of practice may be needed before a new behavior becomes natural and integrated.

    Decide what to practice and how it can be best accomplished.

    Develop a practice schedule. Be specific about how often, when, and where. Record your efforts.

    Allow yourself to make mistakes. Remember: It is practice; you don’t have to be perfect!

  5. Proof. When your practice goes well and you experience satisfaction, you are receiving proof that you can change. This valuable reinforcement encourages you to continue. New behavior must be reinforced repeatedly with positive experiences (proof ) to keep the process working and ensure a permanent change.

    Ask others to give you positive feedback about your practice.

    Give yourself “pats on the back” with positive self-talk.

    Establish a practice schedule and reward yourself for keeping your commitment. Give yourself a reward just for practicing. You don’t have to be completely changed to deserve some positive reinforcement.



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