Change Reference

What’s Needed to Change and Asking a Better Question

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When people come to see me for the first time and then they start to get to working with me, within this process of weight loss, and health, and wellness, and what ever this is to you.  They often exclaim to me that working with me is something that is very different than what they are used to, and I can see how that is.  Because how I view this whole process of weight loss and health and wellness, I view it within the context of what actually means to change something.  Because I think that’s what were trying to do.

On a very fundamental level what we’re trying to do is change.

And if I were to break this down; now there’s a multitude of factors that are involved in the creation of change and the sustainability of a change.  But if I were to break it down to the very nuts and bolts of how change actually occurs it first starts with our perspective and how we view things; and then second, it involves the development of skills that we don’t already posses.  Changing our perspective. Changing our view of things.  It’s this idea of metacognition and psychoanalysis.  It’s this idea of thinking about our thinking.  To be able to step back from our own pool of thoughts and say “could I be wrong?”  And that’s not easy for people to do because we like to be right.  And we think that our perspective is the only perspective, and so, getting into a practice of where you’re continually challenging your own thought is not an easy task, but it’s something that I think is very vital when it comes to making changes. To be able to say to yourself is there a perspective that I have not yet entertained, that if I did, that could possibly move me forward…is powerful.

You know, and this goes back to a mantra that I teach my clients and live my life by, and it’s “ask a better question.”  When you get stuck, as a better question.  And there’s only one rule that I give to people when it comes to asking a better question, and that’s it can’t be a question that has a binary response.  What I mean by that is that it can’t be “yes or no”, “true or false”, or “either or”.  The reason why I say that is because when we talk about making changes, you know, a lot of these things can be daunting.  You know, when it comes to weight loss, and when it comes to health, and some of these things we’re trying to do.  It can be overwhelming to some people, and when we lack self confidence, and when we lack self esteem, and we lack self efficacy, you know.  If I ask myself “can I do this?”  I might just say no and I might just give up.  And so when I say the questions that you ask can’t have a binary response, is that’s what I mean.  If you tell yourself “can I do this?” Your default answer might be no, and I don’t want you to go there.  So what a better question might be is “how can I do this?”  It could be that simple.  How could I do this? Because when we ask a question like that it brings our resources to bare, right.  We start to think about, okay, how could I solve this problem.  And ultimately what I’m trying to do, in this whole process, is I’m trying to get you to think critically about your situation.  There’s a quote out there that I forgot who said it.  If it was Jim Rohn or Zig Zigglar. It was one of those guys.  And he said, you know, “don’t ask for less problems, as for more skills.”  And that’s very true.

Moving Away From Answer Dependency

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So, you’re going to have to really look into yourself, really reflect and review on what you think is working and what’s not working. I think this where we fall short sometimes, because we become a very answer-dependent culture, and where we feel like, just get me the answer. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Most people, if I ask you, what are five things you should be doing, and you’re just not doing it? You can probably rattle off five or seven things. So, the fundamental thing that I think that people approach this wrong is that they’re answer-dependent. They’re looking for an answer to be given rather than an answer to be learned and discovered and figured out. When this change, a change where it involves health, wellness, weight loss, whatever it might be, is an adaptable change. It will change as the process moves on because you can predict life, but then you get sick or then your child gets sick or then a family member passes away or then you have to move. These are all life. These are part of life. So, what do you do then? And this is why I say that I don’t have answers for you.

The answers are something that we’re going to have to figure out together and that is the key to things, though, you see, because it’s not the strategy. It’s not what you’re doing that is so important. It’s how you thought about it. What was your train of thought to get there? Because you will need to apply that same thought pattern, that same principle of thinking, again and again and again, because you will need to adapt. You will need to change as life changes, as your beliefs change, as your identity grows bigger. So, the first step is, don’t look for answers to be given to you. Now, I’m not saying don’t be resourceful. Go look for perspective. Go look for other ideas, of course, but understand how those things fit in within the context of who you are and the life you live. It has to pass through that filter. I say this time and time again. Strategies tend to lose their utility. At one point in time, they will become useless to you. So, what do you do then? What happens? And this is all I’m asking.

Tracking the “Bright Spots”

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The term “bright spots” is one that picked up from authors, Chip and Dan Heath in the book, Switch.  A “bright spot” describes a time, action, or behavior that you have done, or are doing, that has lead to some success in the pursuit of a particular change.  For example, if you have lost weight in the past, what did you do, previously, that you found some success in?  Upon being asked that question, you can look back and examine the time, actions, and behaviors that have previously worked for you–and in doing so you can glean some ideas that may be applicable to your current situation.  This is a strategy that can provide you with some clues and, maybe, even a starting point to begin to change a specific habit or behavior.

How to Apply This Strategy

When applying this strategy, it is important to remember that our lives our not static, and when looking back to examine what has worked previously, we must understand that what may have worked before may have been successful due to your specific situation during that time, such as age, commitments, obligations, and priorities.  This cannot be overlooked–it may not be the most realistic “bright spot” to pursue if you’re 55 yrs old and you are attempting to try a strategy that worked for you when you were 21.  Therefore, it may be best to examine your most recent history to begin tracking your “bright spots”.

Bright Spot tracking, often times, gives you clues as to which strategies work well for you when employed concurrently, or in unison.  For example, if you look back into your recent history and found that you were successful losing weight during a time when you signed up as a part of group, you had a trainer instructing you to perform specific tasks, you regularly updated you friends about your progress, etc. you begin to gain a larger perspective of why, during this time, you were able to see some success with this particular area change.  Using the example given here you can glean the following:

  • You signed up as part of a group–this may have attributed to your success because there was a level of social support, and a feeling of “you are not in this alone”–which may have helped you stay inspired to continue your efforts.
  • You had a trainer–a trainer may have provided you with clear instructions, support, and a level of accountability; all of which may have had a profound affect on your success.
  • You regularly updated your friends about your progress–here you may have provided YOURSELF with a level of accountability because informing your friends and family (the people you are closest to), makes your efforts “real”, because when your friends and family notice it has a direct effect on your life–because your efforts may have been “validated” in personal social engagements.

As you can see, from the example above, accountability, social support, and clarity of actions all can be credited for making you previous change successful.

I find that tracking your bright spots is a good strategy to utilize early on, when considering making a change, because it can provide a landscape for what has made a previous change happen.

Questions to Consider

Here are a few questions for you to consider when Tracking your Bright Spots to get you started.

  • What time of day was it?
  • What relationships did you have?
  • What actions did you do that you feel attributed to your success?
  • Were you alone? If not, who supported you, and in what way?
  • How did you feel at that time?  Were you confident, happy, indifferent, or content?
  • Where were you? or Where did you go?

I find this strategy is best utilized when worked through with a trusted friend or coach.  It can also be done by yourself, but you must be diligent in recording your findings and asking yourself questions that promote solution based thinking.