The new year is typically when many people start to set resolutions of how they want this year to be. They want to change an aspect of their life or behavior. Resolutions abound such as: “I want to lose weight,” or “I want to make more money.” But how do those things actually happen? How can we make a change stick? After all, most people abandon their resolutions by February, and sometimes even earlier, so it’s clear that merely setting the intention isn’t enough.
My friend introduced me to a concept that’s blowing my mind a little called the Triad of Change. Think of the triad as a three-legged stool consisting of structure, behavior, and perception. You need all three for change to happen, but for the change to be long-lasting and sustainable, you have to start with the leg of the stool that’s most enlivening for you and end with the most draining part, otherwise, you’re sure to fail.
Structure is the “where and how.” It’s budgets, plans, routines, etc. If you get excited by diving deep into the small details of life, start any change with structure.
Behavior is the “what.” It’s actions, activities, performance, etc. If it thrills you to just get out there and do something, start with behavior.
Perception is the “why.” It’s feelings, vision, purpose, meaning, etc. If you become animated thinking about how you want to feel, what you want to experience, or the big picture, start any change or decision with perception.
The triad of change is hugely relevant in my life right now because I notice I keep starting with my drain: structure. For instance, I’m flying to Australia soon, which is super exciting because the country has been on my bucket list for a long time. But instead of celebrating, I feel stressed and overwhelmed with all the details. “Should I book this Airbnb? What about that one? Would it be better for me to fly at this time or at this time? When should I plan the side trip to the Great Barrier Reef? Can I fit in a visit to Uluru?”
For some people, thinking about those details is enlivening. They clap their hands in glee wading through various Airbnb options. I am not one of those people. Making decisions from a place that’s invigorating for me, perception, means asking myself, “What do I want to experience?” and then going from there. I want to experience comfort so that means booking an Airbnb with air-conditioning. I also want to experience ease, and for me, that means being close to things, not in party central, but also not in the boonies. With that in mind, I found an Airbnb that meets my needs. I didn’t wade through 1,000+ listings or focus only on finding the cheapest place. I set myself up for success by honing in on what matters to me.
The Triad of Change concept is simple yet complex. I’ve found most of the literature about it online is esoteric, all of which is to say if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, you’re not the only one! You can message me if you want to talk about it in depth, but for the purposes of this post, it’s enough to ask yourself, “Which of the legs energizes me? What inspires me?” and then start from that place. You know what to end with by asking yourself, “Which of the legs drains me? What would I rather put off or outsource to someone else?”
Thus far this process is making my life easier and I have that wish for you too. Life is too short to feel drained all the time. Why not feel enlivened instead?
I dream of a world where we understand how to make a change stick. A world where we recognize the mechanisms that work for other people may not work for us. A world where we understand change doesn’t have to be hard or grueling, it can be easy and joyful. A world where we operate from a place that lights us up and we let that energy carry us through our days.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.