Change: Shift Happens!


Ideas about Change:

tree bursting with growth

The psychology and coaching fields have lots of ideas about change–what facilitates change, what maintains change, and whether change is even possible.

Systems theorists talked about trying to get to a ’state of homeostasis’, where the system—i.e. your life within your context–was balanced. Change was considered bad within this context and ‘maintaining’ healthy ‘patterns’ was the goal.

Another idea about change was Prochasta’s and DiClemente’s  6 stages of change. Simply put, in the first stage, you don’t know there’s a problem so there’s no reason to change; in the second, you know there’s a problem, but don’t really know if you want to do anything about it; in the third, you’re tentatively making some plans to make some changes; during the 4th, you take action for at least 3-6 months; in the 5th, you maintain the changes for anywhere from 6 months to 5 years, and the last stage occurs when your new healthy habits are entrenched.

Focused solution therapists like myself, believe change is constantly happening. Change can happen really quickly and the solution may have nothing to do with the problem.  Solution focused therapists help you focus on what you want and what you can do to get there. We think about change as little steps you can take to help things go the way you want them to go.  The focus becomes about goals, on what you specifically want, and progress or change is talked about throughout the process. What may be helpful is making refinements in the steps along the way.

My recent experience with change/goal setting:

You may remember me talking about my challenge creating new habits with food. All during the fall I knew there was something wrong and was trying to bring myself back to health by getting lots of sleep, taking my vitamins, and eating well. What I didn’t know was that a lot of the food I was eating was making me sick. Eventually, I keyed into food’s role and went to get some allergy testing. For a time, I experimented with moderation. It was Christmas afterall! Once I got serious about these changes, I found myself eating the forbidden foods once in awhile whilst thinking, it’s not fair, and trying once again to stick to my plan. Eventually, I did some reading on food intolerances and really got a good handle on what was happening to my body when I had that cream in my coffee or a bite of freshly baked bread. What I read made sense to me and I was able to accept and embrace idea of a changed diet. The forbidden foods I had been eating no longer seemed appealing because I knew what the outcome would be. I’ve begun to really enjoy the meals I’m making and love how good I’m feeling.

Would I say these were stages? No. I know the process might look very different for someone else. Once my new diet made sense to me, it was meaningful and I believed in it, I no longer felt deprived. I feel lucky to know what to do to live feeling really good. I also know that what makes a difference to me may be very different for someone else. I know how long it takes for someone to make a change become a habit and how s/he makes it become so may be vary widely.

What’s been your experience with change?

When you wanted something to change, what did you want to have happen instead? What did you want your life to be like? What did you do that helped? What helped make this change a habit? Did you have to tweak your goals or the steps that you took to reach your goals? How has this experience benefitted what you do today?

I welcome your comments!

About the author:

Renée Meggs is a Registered Psychologist who works with adults and children to help them do what works, both in counselling and coaching. If you’d like to book an appointment or inquire about my services, please e-mail me at and/or go to my website at I can meet with you in person, on the phone, or on-line.