The Reality Check

The Reality Check

The basics of Change Frame are the Stop Start Continue review, followed by assessment of Upsides and Downsides.

But here’s what I have learned over the years: Don’t believe everything you think. It’s important to take these concepts to the next step to really make sure your change has the greatest chance of success. It’s time to employ the part of our brain that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. 

The human brain functions by accessing (among other things) the emotions and reactions of our Limbic System in the first instance or when we are under stress or pressure.  So our natural first inclination is to do what we’ve always done.  But how does that saying go? “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Enter, the pre-frontal cortex.  This is the part of our brain that is responsible for conscious thought.  Here’s the kicker though, it takes more energy.  It’s harder to do.  Sometimes it even causes physiological discomfort to create new neural pathways; to challenge the status quo.  But that’s the crux of change!

The best way I have found to leverage the pre-frontal cortex is to conduct what I call The Reality Check.  There are three simple steps with the Reality Check.  Go through each one of your Stops Starts and Continues and ask these questions:

  1. Is that true? / Will that really happen?

This question is to challenge whether what you think will happen (or, if the change has already occurred, what has happened) is actually true.  Let’s say that I have decided that I need to lose weight, so I’m going to increase my exercise by joining a gym and heading off every morning at 5am.  Currently I sleep until 7.  So…how realistic am I being that I will get up and go to the gym at 5am every morning? Some may argue that I’m setting myself up for failure and disappointment.  This is an opportunity to look at things and perhaps adjust them to what is actually realistic.

  1. Is that really and Upside / Downside?

The second challenge for yourself is to be brutally honest with how you have perceived each stop start or continue.  Yes…I want to lose weight so stopping my daily doughnut treat is a great thing…a real Upside!!  BUT…I love doughnuts.  They’re my favourite thing in the world.  Guess what…for me…in this instance…this is actually quite a Downside.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t do it, I just need to be aware that it’s going to be tough for me, so I could do with having some strategies in my back pocket for how I’m going to deal with those moments.  Maybe I’ll start having a sweet piece of fruit every day at doughnut time instead.  Again…the purpose is to be brutally honest with yourself so you go into this change with eyes wide open, ready to tackle the challenges head on.

  1. Does what I’m proposing to change really support why I’m doing it.

This part of the Reality Check is relevant only for Change by choice, and comes back to the original driver underlying why you’re making this change.  It’s important to ensure that what you are doing in this change aligns with why you are doing it.  A mismatch here is something that could ultimately undermine the change.  Let’s say you’ve decided you’re going to start daily meditation to de-stress and improve your general mindset.