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Setting Ourselves Up for Success in 2023

The New Year is over, and we are now firmly planted into 2023. Some of us set new years’ resolutions and are going strong with our chosen changes. Many of us fell off the wagon fast. We had good intentions but the changes we wanted just did not happen. And finally, some of us did not even contemplate any change over the New Year, as this symbolic gesture was not in the cards.

Now changing is not easy. Especially as we get older and we get set in our ways; however, “Old dogs can learn new tricks”. Positive change is a healthy thing for seniors. Change helps us to use our brain and create new perspectives, to think clearer and establish new paths for healthier living. Improvement in our quality of life can come at any point in our lives and can be measured in many ways: a new friend, a new interest, a new skill, feeling better, or even in the ability to smile more in your day. Change is good. Still, the question is raised “how do we set ourselves up for success in a quest to live longer and/or increase our quality in life”.

Change is not simply based on discipline or perseverance.  It is based on becoming aware of the issues and then setting up a strategy for success. Change should also be defined as anything new or enhanced in your life. A simple model is to look at what is called the “Transtheoretical Model of Change”. This model was developed after looking at many psychotherapies and has morphed into a model used in every facet of our personal and professional life. The basis is grounded on 6 stages of a permanent change process. For the sake of this article, I want to discuss three stages: Precontemplation, Contemplation, and Action.

In my experience, stage one: PRECONTEMPLATION is often difficult. Precontemplation, in simpler terms, means we must be aware of what it is we want or need to change. Sometimes this is easy: We have been given a diagnosis and if we want to live longer or increase our quality of life, we have to make changes. But what happens if we are content or simply don’t believe life could be any better. Or it is just easier to say, “I am too old to change”. This is where we must dig deep. Sometimes we need to realize that change can help us live longer, feel better, have better relationships, and be a stronger contributor for our friends, family, and our community. Doing something new or different is not a judgment of whether life is good or not…it is simply an ingredient that we need as we get older to keep us on our toes, to help us keep our brain moving, and to help us adapt easier in an ever-changing world.

The second stage, CONTEMPLATION, is another way to describe looking at the options that we do have. This stage lets us look at the resources available and link them to the desired benefit we are seeking. These resources can come in the form of education, a class, a new group, a community resource, or a support group.  The idea is to look for the opportunities that are available so we can have choices. Precontemplation and contemplation go hand in hand; It is much harder to contemplate the options available when we don’t support the belief that positive change is needed.

The third phase in conversation is ACTION.  This is when we embrace a change, identify how we want to proceed, and then get involved in a program. Maybe it is a walking group. Maybe it is to have more fun. Maybe it is to challenge yourself or to try something new. Maybe it is to go to the Senior Center. No matter what positive change is good.

Finally, change is grounded on having the support we need. To feel safe in change. To have fun with change. And to have a program that works. If you work the program...the program works. The Blaine Senior Center is a destination that can help you with those wants and needs. Our goal is to help you  live the quality of life you want for the longest period possible. We want to be your safe, positive change agent.

-Pete Nelson, Director, Blaine Senior Center

*The Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM) by James Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island and Carlo Di Clemente (Prochaska & Velicer, 1997).


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