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The Anatomy of Change

Published 1/2/2017

In today's episode, we're talking about the transtheoretical model of behavioral change. This will help you understand the different stages you go through when making a resolution to shift your behavior.

Today's episode is sponsored by WooCommerce. WooCommerce is customizable eCommerce built on WordPress. Powering over a third of all online e-commerce stores, with WooCommerce you own all of your data, forever. Use the code "developertea" for 25% off on WooCommerce.com.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode we are ringing in the new year by talking about change. We try not to jump on too many bandwaggans on this podcast. We don't talk about too many trends. We don't typically follow the news in development very closely. And the hope for that is that we will remain timeless. You can go back and listen episodes from last year and they are just as valuable now as they were back then for the most part. Now we're kind of taking a little bit of a detour from that behavior and we're actually jumping on two different bandwaggans. You all know that we are going to be focusing at least in part on JavaScript during January. It's just called JavaScript January, very simple idea. All of my personal learning in January is going to be centered around simply getting better at JavaScript, both on the server side as well as on the client side learning new tools but also learning some basic control structures that I haven't quite picked up yet in newer versions of JavaScript. And so I hope that you will join me on that journey and focus on one kind of theme for January. There may be a little competition forthcoming specifically for JavaScript. Haven't nailed all the details down on that but be certain to subscribe and whatever podcasting app you use. And I will definitely talk about it on future episodes if we do nail down those details. But for now, JavaScript January. The second bandwagon that we are going to jump on is specifically for today's episode. We aren't talking about JavaScript today. Today we're going to be talking about something that a lot of you are already thinking about. And we talked about it last year as well and that is some kind of resolutions. Hopefully you kind of saw this coming when we said that we're bringing in the new year by talking about change and so many people in the beginning of a year for whatever reason, many reasons we can talk about a few of those in a minute. But this is the time where people are trying to commit to some sort of change. And a lot of times people end up failing at that. And part of what I want to do here on this podcast is help you make commitments that you can keep. Help you make commitments to change that you can keep. And commitments to change that is a very broad discussion to have. There's so many different types of commitments you can make. So many different types of resolutions. And we talked about goals needing to be concrete, whereas values are the things that drive those goals. Right. So values are not concrete, but goals are concrete and measurable. It's an incredibly important part of making these resolutions in the beginning of the year. And again, there are many different ways that people fail at this. Many different types of failure. One of the types of failure is simply never starting, never actually taking the first step to do whatever it is that you've resolved to do. Right. That underlying word resolved. I mean, you've made the decision you've decided to move forward, but you never actually take a step of action. Another type of failure is, of course, falling off of that action train after a certain period of time. A lot of people will resolve for one or two, maybe three weeks. And then for whatever reason, whether it's a willpower issue or maybe they get sidetracked, they don't have a way of staying accountable to themselves. They end up not continuing that action that they resolved in the beginning of January to continue. Another reason a lot of people end up not following through with these resolutions. And this is kind of a strange one. And hopefully I've caught you on the right day for this because it's the Monday after January 1st. A lot of people end up not sticking to their resolutions because they feel like since they didn't start on the exact day, whether that's January 1st or maybe December 31st, whatever arbitrary day that you've chosen, because you didn't start, then you've already broken it. Right. Or because you started late or maybe because you broke it on one day because maybe you were traveling and it was difficult to stick to that resolution. Maybe you're recuperating after the holidays. There's really a myriad of reasons why this time of the year is volatile for a lot of people. So that's another reason why people end up not following through with their resolutions. Obviously, there are so many other reasons people don't follow through. Sometimes they don't follow through because they've set too lofty of a goal and pretty much out of the gate, they realize that it's impossible. So why try to do something that's impossible? On the other hand, there are some resolutions that are ultimately boring. They don't inspire the person who has actually made the resolution. And there's a lot more out there that you can go and find. You can go and read and listen to the stories of your friends and look at your own past, determine the reasons why you didn't follow through with your own resolutions. I certainly have done this as well. Last year we talked about having resolutions that you follow up on in a more structured format, more specifically shorter term resolutions, perhaps a month-long resolution rather than a new year's resolution. In today's episode, we are going to talk about how to make good resolutions. We've already covered some of that and there's a lot of good content online. We may talk about that at a later date, maybe next new years. We'll talk about that. But instead, we're going to talk about kind of the anatomy of change. And this is a psychological model. We're going to talk about something called the trans-theoretical model, the trans-theoretical model. This is really just the shape of change that people follow regardless of what type of change they're making. It's generally the anatomy of a resolution. We're going to talk about that right after today's quick sponsor break. Today's sponsor is WooCommerce. WooCommerce launched in 2011 and then was acquired by Automatic last year. It's developed and supported by a fully distributed and global team. It powers over 37% of all online stores. That's a massive number. That's well over a third of all online stores. And it's the world's most popular e-commerce platform. It's built on top of WordPress. It's open-sorts, fully customizable and unlike out-of-the-box solutions, you can build a unique store to suit specific business needs. There are no limits with WooCommerce. You own your data forever. WooCommerce supports selling physical products and digital downloads, subscriptions, memberships, service and accommodation bookings, ticketing and integrates with major payment gateways and e-commerce service providers like PayPal, Stripe, the US Postal Service, Royal Mail, as well as hundreds of other local services. Maybe you have a resolution to start an online store. Maybe you are wanting to get into passive income. You want to sell a book or perhaps you have a product or you know a friend or a family member that has a product that you'd like to help them sell it online, start a new business. With WooCommerce, you can take your brand to a global scale. It's pretty easy using WordPress and WooCommerce because there's a free WordPress plugin from WPML to make your store instantly multilingual and WooCommerce offers a number of extensions for internationalization, including a currency converter, local payment gateways and shipping providers and more. And WooCommerce has provided you a Developer Tealistener with the promo code Developer Teathat gets you 25% off on WooCommerce.com, 25% off for using the code Developer Tea. Go to spec.fm slash WooCommerce to get started today. Thank you again to WooCommerce for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. I want to jump straight into this discussion about the trans theoretical model, the trans theoretical model. It is a behavioral model. It shows you how we change and more specifically how we change when we elect to change. In other words, when I decide that I want to change my behavior, this is often associated with things like quitting smoking or stopping another addictive behavior or perhaps weight management. These are things that the trans theoretical model applies to in most literature that you're going to find online. But certainly this can apply to anything that you elect to change or you elect to create a new habit. And that's because it is a general model that provides for you different stages, different stages of your change. And that's why we're calling it the anatomy of your behavioral change. These stages are in order pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Once again, that's pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance. If you end up falling off the bandwagon, this is something that we've talked about obviously already on today's episode. If you end up not following through or somehow going back into a behavior that you had once stopped or if you have discontinued a habit that you had intentionally started, then you've hit a stage called relapse. This is something that you've probably heard once again when referencing addictive behaviors and a drug abuse and that kind of thing. So these different stages you go through pre-contemplation is before you're even thinking about making the change. This is the stage where you haven't really even considered making any particular change. Now the thing that marks this stage or the beginning of this stage is that you are beginning to learn about the benefits of a potential change. So let's say that the change that you want to make this year is that you want to wake up 30 minutes earlier every day in order to write. You want to write in a blog or maybe you want to write in a personal journal, but you've decided that you want to wake up 30 minutes every day, 30 minutes early every day and write. But at some point you had to gain some kind of knowledge that started you down the path of thinking about the benefits of waking up early and writing. Whether you heard it from someone on a podcast like Developer Tea, maybe you read it, maybe you saw someone else do it through observation or maybe you even came up with it on your own. You somehow intuitively knew that this would help your career maybe, right? So there's there is a stage that is happening where you haven't made the decision and you actually aren't even considering making the decision, but you are gaining knowledge about this. You're learning about the potential benefits of a particular behavior change. The second stage contemplation, this occurs when you start thinking about making the change, right? You're more aware of the benefits than you ever have been before and you're starting to imagine more specifically what your life would look like if you indeed did make those changes. Now, there's some key markers between the pre-contemplation and the contemplation stage that you need to understand during pre-contemplation, you will tend to have a pros and cons war, right? You're considering the change, how it would affect your life very, very distantly. You're starting to become educated on whatever that change would do to your life, but you're generally overestimating the cons of that change in pre-contemplation. During the contemplation phase of the trans-theoretical model, you're actually equalizing the pros and the cons, right? You're starting to recognize that the pros list is a little bit bigger than you thought it was and the cons list is a little bit smaller than you thought it was. But once again, at this stage, you haven't really made a decision. You haven't really weighed the odds completely in such a way that you see the pros outweighing the cons. So you're still kind of in limbo, still balancing whether or not it's a good idea in the contemplation phase. That's exactly why it's called the contemplation phase. A lot of people end up staying at the contemplation phase. They stay at the contemplation phase about many different changes that they could make in their life. A lot of the time, the cons list that they have could actually be diminished by a different behavior change, right? This primary decision that you're trying to make, you have a cons list. There are many ways to get around those cons. But a lot of the time we use that cons list, we use that balance between the pros and cons as an excuse for not executing, not moving into the next phase, which is, of course, preparation. During the preparation phase, you are kind of leaning up to the action phase. The whole point of the preparation phase is to allow your life to accommodate the new changes that you are about to make. So for example, waking up early in the morning, you might start by waking up 30 minutes early, when really your long term goal is to wake up two hours early, right? So you start integrating this change. You start adjusting your lifestyle a little bit. Perhaps you start going to bed a little bit earlier. Do you move a TV out of your bedroom into the living room so that you aren't tempted to stay up and watch TV and instead you can go to bed at the time that you chose to go to bed at. Tons of different things that you could be doing in the preparation phase that are not actually necessarily directly accomplishing the resolution that you've made, the change that you specifically decided to do, which is wake up early and start writing. Other examples of preparation phase may be saving up money if you need money for your particular resolution. If you are, for example, if you are looking to lose a little bit of weight, maybe you buy different foods, you clean out your pantry of unhealthy foods, you may go to the gym and buy a gym membership. And a lot of people, once again, in the early part of the year, they get to the preparation phase and maybe a few steps into the action phase and then they fall off, right? So once again, the preparation phase is leading up to the action phase. It's preparing your life, adjusting some of the pieces and parts of your life to accommodate for that new behavior. The next phase is perhaps the hardest phase of all. And part of the reason it's the hardest phase of all is because it quite often becomes the most boring phase of all. In preparation, you are actually experiencing some of the parts and pieces of the change that you are trying to make occur. But during the actual action phase, you've changed a behavior and you may not see the results that you were looking for right away. That change is very often uncomfortable. For example, in our previous discussion about waking up early and writing, on day one, you may feel very uncomfortable writing. You may be groggy and tired. You may not be able to get the right words out onto the paper. And in fact, that could last for three or four months even. And so the feedback mechanism that we're looking for as humans, we're looking for the change to affect something a lot of times it takes longer than we expected to. And the excitement of making a decision to change and the excitement of preparing to make that change and all of the pros that we weighed against the cons in the contemplation phase, very often, especially early in the action phase, we don't see those pros coming to light. In fact, it's often very boring, very dull and difficult and painful to go through the action phase. And this is where most of your energy and resolve, once again, going back to that word resolution, this is where that comes into play. And I want you to go back and listen to this episode anytime that you're in that action phase in the upcoming months and perhaps even in the upcoming week. Come back and listen to this episode. Remind yourself that the action phase is difficult. It's not easy. It's not even exciting most of the time. So that's what it's like to be in the action phase. It can be boring. It can be difficult and it takes a lot of energy and resolve to stick to your resolution. And I'm not going to give you any hacks to get around that today. I'm not going to give you any mental games to play to stick to your resolution because sometimes the things that we resolve to do are not easy. Sometimes quite simply, you have to deal with the fact that it's hard. It's difficult. And a person who sticks to their resolutions on the other side of that, they are rewarded. So keep that in mind, unfortunately, I'm not going to sugarcoat it for you today because the reward isn't in the process. It's on the other side. The pros and cons that you weighed, the only way to get those pros is to stick to your resolutions to go through the hard part. So once again, the action phase, that's the hard part. Stage five, the next stage is maintenance. People at this stage have typically experienced some kind of victory or they've hit some kind of milestone. They've gotten to a place where they made a change. They went through that action phase and they reached a goal. Now, there's some really good things. There's some good feelings that go along with the maintenance stage. But there's also the potential of a bad situation occurring, specifically the good habits that you built up. Now that you have accomplished something, it may feel like you can quit. It's like crossing a finish line and suddenly slowing away down. This can be kind of a sneaky situation where you end up relapsing. That's exactly what that next phase is, relaps, because you end up in a situation where you feel like you've accomplished what you set out to accomplish and now you are lacking direction or perhaps you're lacking the same conviction that you had in the action stage. It's important to not take for granted that the maintenance phase is very, very fragile and very important to maintaining all of the things that you resolved to change permanently about your own behavior. Now, of course, there are some goals that are not necessarily permanent. There are some goals that do have finish lines where your behavior can revert to a different version of what you were for that specific period of time. There are some things that you can consider a stage or just for a period of time. Now, if you are indeed trying to make a permanent change, then you have to realize that the remainder of your life is going to be a maintenance phase for some of those changes that you've made. So stay vigilant about maintaining those behaviors. Stay vigilant about building your environment in such a way that you're not tempted to go back to what you were doing before. Don't bring the TV back into your room if you do want to wake up 30 minutes early every day and write. So in recap, the five stages of the trans-theoretical model, pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Of course, if you fall into relapse, then you go back into the action phase or perhaps to the preparation phase, depending on how deeply you relapseed. I hope this has been a valuable episode of Developer Tea for you, specifically for those of you who are starting your resolutions or you have made some kind of resolutions for the new year. Once again, this is a bandwagon subject. I know a lot of you have already heard discussions about resolutions. You've already decided that you either do or do not want to participate in this. In any case, if you are looking to become better, if you are looking to become a better version of yourself, a better developer, a better worker, a better person to the people around you, someone who is better in relationships, then this kind of thing, this resolution concept is going to apply to you on a regular basis. We all have room to grow. We all have things that we can get better at. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Wu Commerce, powering well over a third of the world's e-commerce sites. And the data is all yours. It's built on top of WordPress, it's open source, and it's incredibly powerful. Not to mention, Wu Commerce is offering you 25% off for using the code Developer Tea. Make sure you go to spec.fm slash Wu Commerce to find out more about what Wu Commerce has to offer. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Remember, it's JavaScript January. Reach out to me with your JavaScript questions, your ideas, maybe projects that you've done, cool things that you've found online. I'm going to be active in the Reddit JavaScript subreddit as well as the Learn JavaScript subreddit. And we're going to be talking about it in the spec Slack community. Go to spec.fm slash Slack to join that conversation. Of course, you can send me a direct message. I'm open for direct messages on Slack. Go and check it out. Spec.fm slash Slack. Once again, thank you so much for listening. And until next time, enjoy your tea.