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Ready, Reset, Go! Your Guide to Healthy, Meaningful Change


Increase your motivation for meaningful change with this effective tool

Written by Clinical Psychologist, Katie Dobinson 

The start of a new year brings an opportunity to check-in with yourself about how you’re feeling, and what’s important to you. This check-in can be the first step in identifying what changes you might like to make for a fulfilling 2024. Whilst making meaningful behaviour change is something we can do any time of year, why not harness the ‘refresh and reset’ mindset of this time of year and kick-start some positive changes now? 

We know that breaking old habits, or building new ones, isn’t always easy. Making changes usually demands a deep understanding of our motivations and a strategic approach to the actions we need to take in order for change to happen. This sounds like hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. One simple but powerful tool that has had proven success in this area is Motivational Interviewing. This technique can be a game-changer when it comes to increasing motivation for change.  

In this new year blog, we will explore the core principles of Motivational Interviewing and how they can be applied to nurture a strong internal drive for making meaningful changes in your life.   

So, whether it’s a bad habit of mindless scrolling on your phone, a desire to build stronger connections with friends, or trying out that new hobby you’ve always thought of but kept putting it off, this tool can empower you to overcome resistance, strengthen your willpower, and achieve long-term transformation for your wellbeing 

So, what is Motivational Interviewing? 

Motivational Interviewing is a therapeutic approach developed by psychologists William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick. It involves a number of techniques that help to increase our motivation to change unhelpful behaviours, or to build new, healthy, helpful habits.  

Whilst Motivational Interviewing traditionally consists of a dialogue between two people, the skills used can be applied independently, as a self-guided way to resolve feelings of uncertainty, despite wanting to make meaningful a change in your life. Motivational interviewing gives you the structure to give yourself a realistic pep talk. It starts with noticing what’s happening for you now that you’d like to change, and then questioning the potential pros and cons of making that change. This line of thinking helps you to move towards a healthy, mindful approach.  

For example, many of us experience feelings of anxiety, and negative repetitive thoughts about problems in our lives, such as worrying about relationships at home or at work. However, we don’t always have healthy, helpful behaviours to assist in resolving these worries. We might find that whenever we feel overwhelmed with worry, we avoid the issue and instead ‘doom-scroll’ on our phones. Before you know it, hours have passed. Even though we forgot about the problem temporarily, as soon as we put the phone down that worried feeling returns.  


You may have already decided you’d like to stop scrolling on your device and instead you’d like to tackle your worries head-on, but feelings of ambivalence and uncertainty make this change difficult. Motivational Interviewing can help guide meaningful change for a habit like this that you’d like to break Here’s how….  


How to Apply Motivational Interviewing to Overcome Unhelpful Habits 

Here are six of the key principles in Motivational Interviewing that can help you when wanting to overcome an unhelpful habit:   

Show empathy to yourself: Understand and acknowledge your own feelings and struggles with changing this unhealthy habit. Listen to your emotions without judgement.  

“I’m scrolling to try and get away from feeling so anxious. It makes sense that I don’t want to feel worried. Even though it’s unhelpful in the long-term, it’s an understandable attempt to try and feel better in the moment.” 

See the change: Explore the difference between your current behaviour and your long-term goals. Weigh up the pros and cons of changing and not changing this habit.  

“At the moment, I’m spending about an hour or so each day scrolling through social media apps. It’s a quick-fix but as soon as I put the phone down, the anxious feelings and worries return. Even though approaching the problems will be hard at first, I know in the long-term it will give me confidence and reduce the worries as I can actually do something helpful to resolve them (e.g., talk to my partner about needing more time together, talk to my colleague about making changes to the workload structure). 

Roll with resistance: Instead of confronting resistance head on, explore the reasons behind it and think about some potential solutions. 

“I’m resisting making this change because I just want to feel better right away. It’s ok to notice this resistance to change. Change is hard. What other thoughts might I be having that are adding to these feelings of resistance? What other things could I try instead of doom-scrolling when I’m feeling nervous to help me feel a little more at ease? It’s normal to find change hard at first, just take it one day at a time.”

Have faith in yourself: Build your confidence by focusing on your past successes and strengths. Think about a time when you were able to make changes in your life.  

“In the past I’ve made changes even though it’s been difficult. Like that time I actively woke up a little earlier in the morning to go for a short walk. I hated it at first, but I got there in the end and I actually started to enjoy it. Maybe if I can stick to this new change, I’ll be able to do more enjoyable things in the time I was previously doom-scrolling.”  

Ask open-ended questions: Explore your own thoughts and feelings by asking yourself open-ended questions. For instance, instead of asking, “Why do I want to quit this habit?” try asking, “What benefits would breaking this habit bring to my life?”

Reflection – the mirror to your change: Regularly reflect on your motivations, goals, and progress. This could be through journaling if that helps you process your thoughts. Reflection helps bring together your commitment and provides clarity on the path ahead. 



Master your Habits 

When you feel like you have some autonomy and control over your decision-making, you will have a better chance at successful change. You are more likely to embrace change when you feel you have a say in the direction it takes. Plus, seeing success creates a positive feedback loop. As you observe the positive outcomes of your choices, you gain confidence and motivation to continue making decisions that contribute to this.  

The Power of ‘But’ 

Using the word “but” in self-talk can be a powerful tool to challenge and reframe negative thoughts around change. It helps shift your perspective and introduces a more constructive viewpoint which can be very motivating, whether you’re trying to break an old, unhelpful habit, or build a new healthy behaviour. 

One thing about changing our behaviour is that it’s easy to judge yourself for making mistakes or having setbacks. Whenever that happens, finish the sentence with “but”… 

For example:  

  • I didn’t make it to the picnic on the weekend because I felt too overwhelmed, but I am sticking to a smaller social catch-up with two friends later this week.” 
  • “I’m not yet at my goal of running 5km, but I have started walking in the afternoons and I’m gradually building up my fitness and confidence.” 
  • “I didn’t finish the project on time, but I faced unexpected challenges that were out of my control. I can learn from this experience.” 
  • “I forgot to practice my mindful meditation this morning, but it’s ok to be flexible and do it tonight for a few minutes instead.” 

We all slip up every now and then and it’s normal for this to happen along your journey of behaviour change. Rather than feeling down about yourself over making a mistake, plan for it. Acknowledge that sometimes you might slip up, think what could help you to get back on track, and then put that plan into action. Many people find talking to trusted friends or family, health professionals, or others in their community a helpful step for getting back on track. Return to your original reasons for wanting the change in the first place, and use these as a reminder and motivator to get back on track. Be patient and kind to yourself, as you would be to a loved one who is working on making a big change.   


So… New Year, New Way? 

The Motivational Interviewing tool offers you an effective framework to reduce unhelpful habits, or get you started with new, healthy and helpful behaviours that are important and meaningful to you. Remember, change is a process, and with the right mindset and tools in your kit, you’ll be able to shift unhelpful behaviours in an achievable and rewarding way.  It’s not about being perfect, rather it’s about identifying the changes that matter to you, for a more fulfilling and balanced life!  

When it comes to making meaningful behaviour change, here at THIS WAY UP we say, “New year, new WAY! 

Bonus download! Motivation Master: Steps to making meaningful change 

Once you’ve chosen a behaviour you’d like to focus on changing, this 6 step tool can help to build and maintain motivation to make it happen. Remember that creating lasting change takes time, and it’s normal to have ups and downs along the way. The key is kindness to yourself when things get hard, and perseverance – rather than perfection. Download and keep our 6 step motivational tool here. 

If you’re not actually sure how you’re feeling in 2024, why not try out our ‘Take-A-Test Tool’? Our simple quiz will help you check your levels of stress, anxiety, or low mood.


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