Welcome to the final post in the SOCK theory – a tool for personal and corporate change series. The success of this tool relies on completing all of the steps in order. So if you missed any, head here to return to the start.
Congratulations on making it to the fourth and final step of SOCK. Successful change is challenging but essential to getting to the end of life without regret.
I can’t count the number of times I have made a change, and then fallen right back into old habits. So I badly need to remember this one too.
Keeping at it versus falling back into old habits
I have seen many patients quit smoking but then relapse. They go to the pub on a Friday night with their workmates, where they are used to having a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. So it becomes difficult for them to continue to not smoke.
How can you make sure you don’t buy your “packet of cigarettes”, or say yes when a friend offers.
We need strategies and accountabilities to maintain any benefits once they have been achieved.
Three ways to make change stick
1. Community support
Recent research has discussed the importance of a loving and supportive community to not returning to addictive behaviors – Johann Hari, Author of Chasing the Scream. In Australia we have a campaign called Act, Belong, Commit. Recognising the importance of not only support, but getting involved within our community.
My community includes my extended family, my friends (from University, sport etc.), colleagues, and church.
Do you live in isolation? Reach out to the people in your life who can offer support. I recommend that you make a list and act intentionally about it.
2. Direct accountability
The AA program places a strong emphasis on their sponsor network – they have recognised the importance of having someone a dial away to talk to when you are being tempted, or having a tough day. Weight Watchers also has a monthly weigh-in to keep you on track and group accountability.
If you have a friend with a similar challenge, maybe you can have a set time each week that you call and say how you were going, e.g. “I’ll call you each week to tell you I haven’t looked at porn”. or “I will text you with a coded message indicating that I am on track”.
It can actually be very embarrassing to relapse – and we can get paranoid. Be non-judgmental and supportive of friends in this situation.
3. Repetition & Reward
The more you do something that’s rewarding, the more dopamine makes sure you do it again. That applies to both the undoing of a behaviour, and creating the new better one too.
You won’t get it right every time from day one, but the more and more you do the new behaviour, the easier it gets.
Give yourself enough time to see the change and keep at it – don’t give up just because you make some mistakes. Think about this – Just because you drop your phone doesn’t mean you then smash it against the wall. When you fail one day, pick yourself up and keep going, don’t write off the whole day or week.
Congratulations – you’ve reached the end of the series!
Let’s re-commit to sustaining the changes we have made:
“I _____, commit today, with the help of my friends, family and ______, will continue to keep at changing ________, _________ and _________ behaviors. I own that it is my responsibility, and I will stop blaming other people and things. This is something I, ______, want for myself and for my family. I commit to start TODAY and not tomorrow.”
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