Change talk: identifying with the change you want to make

I had an experience this week which got me thinking about the importance of change talk and truly identifying with the change. This is such an important change to make if you want to be successful in reaching your goals. For anyone who didn’t know, I am currently shifting away from one career path into making my nutrition and health coaching business full-time. It has been a three year process of completing all of my training, building my brand and my website and starting to take on clients. It’s not something that happens overnight and so right now I am in the awkward grey area where when someone asks me what I do, I’m not quite sure what to say.

Usually something along the lines of “well.. I am an Engineer working in environmental protection but I am also a qualified nutritionist and yoga teacher and I am trying to build my own business as a Women’s Wellness Coach” is what comes out of my mouth. Sounds confusing and wishy-washy right?! Recently I realised that this may be the truth but it is not the language of success which will get me to where I want to go. Words like BUT and TRYING TO are exactly the type of change talk which keep us stuck early in the change process, unable to move on to action and maintenance stages of change (see below).

The word BUT suggests ambivalence, that is simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings towards something. In my case, between wanting to succeed in becoming a full-time Women’s Wellness Coach and being afraid of leaving my old career behind and stepping into something new and completely unknown. Using the word BUT keeps us retuning back to the Contemplation stage of change. On the other hand, using the word TRYING TO highlights the common loop that many people get stuck in which is moving back and forward between Preparation and Action stages of change. This occurs when we are sure we want the change and have started to take action but we are lacking the self-confidence to really make the change last and keep falling back into old ways of thinking and behaving.

On top of that, my uncertain response to the question “what do you do?” is highlighting to others that I am not quite there yet and I am still attached to my previous identity. Recently I realised that if I want to build a successful, full-time business, I need to start identifying fully with my vision of being a full-time nutritionist and yoga teacher. When people ask me what I do, I need to say that I run my own business as a Women’s Wellness Coach And this is scary! Letting go of my former career and stepping into a completely new identity is pretty terrifying actually. Not only because of my own doubts, fears and insecurities but also because by creating a new identity you also have to deal with changes in how others respond to you.

In my case this is the difference between being viewed by others as an Engineer and as a Women’s Wellness Coach. On your health improvement journey, it could be the difference between being someone who likes to stay up all night partying and a person who likes to get up early and practice yoga in the morning. Or between always being the one to suggest ordering takeaway on a Friday night to cooking a healthy meal with your family at home. Whenever we make a big change we always have to process the changes in how we see ourselves as well as how others see us. This can be a tricky stage to move past but it in essential to fully identify with the vision of yourself as the person who you want to become and allow your own view of the world and others’ to adjust accordingly.

The thing is, often we make assumptions about how other people will view this change in us. Unless we ask them directly for their opinion it is our own opinion that is reflected back to us. We project our own thoughts and beliefs onto the other person. When I believe others will take me less seriously as a Women’s Wellness Coach than as an Engineer or that they will think I am less intelligent or scientifically-minded, that is me thinking that and not them. In truth, I don’t really know how others perceive this change and in reality, it doesn’t really matter. I am making this change for me because it aligns with my own core values and where I see myself thriving in a career that I love.

The same goes for changes that you wish to make for your health. You might believe that your friends will find you boring if you opt for an earlier night, or that your family won’t enjoy the food that you cook at home but perhaps this is not the truth. Maybe your friends are also waiting for the opportunity to live a more active lifestyle and your family much prefer the time spent cooking and eating together at home. But even if they don’t, it is not your responsibility to keep others happy and you should find the inner strength and belief in yourself to make the changes that are right for you and bring you more in line with your happiest, healthiest vision of yourself.

What does this look like in practice? The main thing is to watch your language and look out for change talk that suggests uncertainty or a lack of commitment:

I want to.. feel more energetic and healthy

I could.. start eating more fruits and vegetables

I might.. think about walking more often

I’m trying.. to go to bed before midnight

Instead, replace them with strong statements that identify with the change you wish to make:

I am.. feeling more energised and healthier each day

I do.. go for a walk every evening

I will.. eat fruit or vegetables with every meal this week

I like to.. go to bed earlier and get a good nights’ sleep

So next time someone asks me that dreaded question “what do you do?”, I will smile and say:

I am a nutritionist and yoga teacher and I run my own business as a Women’s Wellness Coach and I write a health blog at Moon Life Yoga. I help women let go of chronic dieting to find true health, vitality and optimal fertility!

Sounds much better right? By aligning our thoughts and language with the identity we want to create for ourselves, we gain clarity and direction. When we use positive change talk, we are much more likely to remain committed to our goals, even during the challenging moments. Maybe take a moment to reflect on your own health or life goals and see where this idea of identifying with a change could apply and how you could change your language to better reflect the person you see yourself becoming.

Over to you…

  • Comment: Do you struggle with using positive change talk? Let me know!
  • Like this post and share to support my business
  • Follow my blog for more posts on nutrition, yoga and holistic health

Other posts you might like

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: