You just don't know how.
When working with clients I do a lot of work with habit development. This has been highly useful in my own habit change practices because in effect, I get to practice over and over before applying it to myself. This is hugely important, particularly if I am trying to change a habit I have perhaps had for a very long time. It's not enough just to tell you that you can in fact change, you need to know how and what the steps are. This brings us to the trans-theoretical model, also known as the Stages of Change. Below is a graphic I like quite a lot that gives you some detail as to how this all works.
The most important part of this model to observe (in my opinion) is that little blue snake at the center that says "chance of relapse." Not only is it a 'chance' it's actually very likely. In fact, most people will cycle through this model 6-12 times before successfully reaching termination. This information is incredibly powerful because it helps you to understand that a lack of success does not equal failure.
Think about that for a moment, because it can be kind of a mind blowing concept. Just because you didn't win does not mean you failed. It's just data collection. You are harvesting useful (and necessary) information regarding your readiness for change, and perhaps where you most often get stuck in this cycle.
Another important point is that there is no requirement for you to move through this model at any specific speed. You are not on a schedule. Think you need to stay in preparation for a few months? You might be right about that, and it could be an important factor in your success. Leaping into 'action' without having laid the proper groundwork could be setting you up for actual failure.
In the next post on this subject we'll look at a few possible habit change scenarios and how we might apply this model to each one.