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Can other people help me change? Week four of four: control and support.

Have you ever started off too committed and over eager? As we run out of energy our passion for the end result diminishes until we can no longer continue. We grind to a halt and the benefits of the hard work disappear faster than the cream cake sitting in front of us.

If this has happened to you, you need a brake; someone to stop you from pushing too hard too soon. This person will provide you with accountability in the same way that your support buddy does but keep you to a slower and more achievable timescale. Your aim is to reach the long term maintenance phase of habit change with little or no fear of relapse. The race will be won by the tortoise, not the hare.

It can be hard to hear that you must pull back on your efforts to make change so choose your brake person wisely. Loved ones and close family members do not make good brakes. They are too close to the action and are already likely to be experiencing some level of disruption as a result of your changes. This makes their fears hard to hear because you may not be sure of their personal motivations. Do they want to slow you down for the sake of your health or because they’d rather you watched a film with them instead of heading back out to the gym?

If you have failed in the past because you’ve started out too keen and run out of steam, look for an authority figure or analytical person who can help you decide in advance on the rate of change you should aim for. Once you have a guideline for your expectations you can judge success by the ability to stay within this range, not by exceeding it. Your buddy can then act as your brake by checking your results against the original desired outcomes rather than vaguely asking if you’re over doing it.

There will be many other ways that people can help but without clearly identified requests it is unlikely that those around you will understand what you need from them. It’s time to get specific with yourself and your friends to make your gameplan for change solid and realistic.

In the next series of articles we'll detail how to get the most out of different groups of people to keep you goal focussed.

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