It’s not uncommon for people to say that they will do something and not do it. But to make positive changes in our lives, we must master the art of meaning what we say.
The action stage of the behavioral change process tests our willpower by demanding that we “walk the talk.” For instance, now that you’ve enrolled in a gym, you must now start going. Or if you’ve sworn to sever all contact with a negative person, you must now stop speaking to them.
Being in the action stage is no simple task. It’s no surprise that people in this phase have the highest probability of relapsing than those in any other behavioral change stage. The reason for this high relapse rate is that the change is new to you. When you said you would make the change, you intended to do so. But now that you’ve started to actively do it, you realize that old habits don’t die easily.
You’re tired of receiving low wages at your job so you enroll in a college to obtain a degree. You soon become overwhelmed by the process of being in school and start flunking your classes.
You discarded your last pack of cigarettes with the intention of never smoking again. Four days later, you succumb to your nicotine craving.
You told your disrespectful boyfriend that the relationship is over. A week later, you’re missing him. He shows up on your doorstep, flowers in hand, and you take him back.
You swore to start your workdays early instead of sleeping ‘til noon. Three mornings later, when the alarm clock goes off, you hit the snooze button, returning to sleep.
Your spouse complains that you’re not adventurous enough in the bedroom and you agree. The next day you spice it up a bit. After that, you go right back to only missionary style.
All of these scenarios show how lack of willpower can affect us in the action stage of the behavioral change process. When we fail to actively make a desired change, we often end up feeling disappointed in ourselves and too discouraged to try again. But the more we try is more we increase our chances of succeeding.
To stay strong in the action stage:
- Remind yourself of the importance of making the change and consider the consequences of not following through.
- Remember that you will be tested throughout the change process and the only way to pass this trial is to develop an indestructible willpower.
- Establish willpower by staying focused on what you’re trying to achieve and not letting distractions or self-doubt obstruct you.
These three points are intricately linked to meaning what you say. When you don’t mean what you say, it only works against you. For instance, you made a vow to stop divulging your personal business to someone who doesn’t respect your privacy. If you break your pledge, that person will keep telling the world your business. Not meaning what you say can also cause others to not take you seriously, think you’re lying, or view you as weak.
Taking action is the best way to prove that you’re serious about any endeavor. The saying “talk is cheap” rings true here, because action resonates louder than words. Whenever I keep talking about doing something, it doesn’t change a thing. I see results only when I put those words into steady action.