Healthy Behavior Change - What's Your Reason?
Behavior change is hard. If you asked a smoker if he/she knew the damage smoking did to the body, you may not get a kind answer, but you’d get a
knowing one. A smoker knows smoking is bad; but the behavior change is harder than that. Addiction is harder than that. Dependency is harder than that.
The same is true for our own addictions, bad habits and dependencies. We all have them, and they’re a lot harder to change than we’d like to admit.
What I’ve come to realize in delivering wellness content over the last decade, is that most people know what they need to do but lack the ability to actually make a change. It’s not a lack of education that plagues us. It’s how to practice the behaviors we know we should be doing.
Have you ever ordered a piece of furniture that has to be assembled upon its delivery? Perhaps you’re someone who takes out the instructions and tediously follows the rules in front of you to get it together. Good for you! I think the more common instinct is to open it up and start putting this and that together because we think we know without reading the manual.
That’s how we approach healthful behavior change. A quick fix here, a diet fad there, an enthusiast who is actually an accountant but got excited about fitness and is now writing blogs to guide you to your goal weight. You may lose a few pounds sure, but usually they’re put right back on with more. You may go a few days without alcohol, sure, but a weekend rolls around and you’re back to the normal bottle of wine before bed. The ugly truth about behavior change is that the easy road is much more appealing to us than the dirty, daily, doing of putting into practice what we know we should be doing. Knowing is not the problem. Knowing how is. And knowing why is.
When choosing programming for your client or group, remember that the programming should focus on a human’s inspiration, motivation and purpose. We find that when we approach a person as a holistic being, whose mind, body and spirit amalgamate into one whole person, we have to have solutions in place that address all of those very important pieces. What most wellness programming does is focus on the mind or the body. It will educate. What effective wellness programming does is address the mind, body and the spirit all at one time. It will inspire.
A person will simply not make sustainable behavior change without understanding why he/she should make it. And I don’t mean the facts about why it’s good for them physically. I mean why in the world would a person want to be better today than he/she was yesterday? If you can help someone understand that, you’ll be on the road to helping them make a lasting and meaningful change.
But first, what’s your reason?
This article was written by Jill Rainford, Wellness Manager at the Orlando Utilities Commission. Jill recently spoke at Wellness Workdays virtual 7th Annual Emerging Trends in Wellness Conference. The Orlando Utilities Commission has been a gold-certified Best Wellness Employer for the past three years.