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Ready, Set, Change

Whether we perceive change as challenging or threatening will have a profound impact on our life's path, including if we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.

Published January 07, 2013 04:52

Ready, Set, Change
Victoria Azarenka

CHANGE: The word itself can mean many things to different people. To some, it triggers excitement and anticipation at the thought of potential challenge and new experiences.

To others, it triggers fear of the unknown and apprehension about what will happen.

Whether we perceive change as challenging or threatening will have a profound impact on our life's path, including if we achieve the goals we have set for tennis and for life.

Maybe you are trying to alter something about your tennis, to take your game to the next level, but just can't seem to move forward. You might know that there is something, like your footwork and speed around the court, which you need to change. You really do WANT to make the change, yet you can't act to make it happen. It's as if you are stuck.

Change can help you start something new and exciting, end something that is no longer rewarding, or let go of something that is preventing you from reaching your potential.

Change is an essential part of growth and evolution. Change brings creative energy that can empower your desire to reach your goals.

THE HIDDEN PROCESS OF CHANGE

Change is actually a process that happens over time, with much of it being invisible to others. The process a person goes through to change occurs in five stages. Each stage is distinct and although people may jump around, there is steady overall progress over time with specific behaviors occurring in each stage. (As described by Prochaska's (1979) Transtheoretical Model of Change).

The first three stages of change are internal stages; only the person going through the process is aware that they are happening; and they are not visible to other people, yet change is still happening. Each stage is described below:

Stage Of Change Process Of Change In Each Stage Example With Player
Pre-Contemplation No intention of making any changes. Sees no reasons to make changes. Not aware of the benefits of change. Always does the same warm-up whether playing right or left handed, baseline or net player. Feels comfortable with her preparation.
Contemplation Intends to make a change within next 6 months or so. Aware of the benefits of change (the pros) and of the costs or obstacles preventing her in making any change (the cons). Thinks a lot about the change and can get stuck not changing (procrastinating). Is aware of the benefits of changing their service action (to increase first serve percentage and decrease risk of injury) however is concerned about the disruption this may cause within the season. Is thinking about the timing of when they may implement the change.
Preparation Intends to make change in the near future (within one month). Actively planning for the change, e.g. reading about or scheduling for it. Has discussed the benefits of increasing her core stability with the Primary Health Care Providers. Plans to make time to get an exercise program at her next event.
Action Others can SEE changes in her actions. Can be difficult to initiate and maintain change. At the start, it feels unfamiliar. Having supportive others and clear plans to stay on track will help. Practicing new service action with coach and has improved her first serve percentage in matches by 10%.
Maintenance Has made the change part of her lifestyle. The change is now more familiar and routine. Does regular recovery routine (massage, hot and cold showers) after every match. Knows this is an excellent recovery routine which results in reduced muscle soreness and limiting injuries.

POWER OF TRANSFORMATION
THE BENEFITS OF CHANGE

Change can assist you to improve your health, your performance, your friendships, and your interactions with others. HOW?
• Change moves your goals from dreams and wishes into action and reality.
• Making changes to your training load, recovery practices, lifestyle, attitudes, ways of thinking and communicating with others help you achieve other goals in your life.

Change is linked with personal growth and developing wisdom.

Change can open the door to new experiences and joys in life. Embrace the challenge of change!

"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living."
Gail Sheehy (author)

WHY DOES CHANGE SOMETIMES SEEM STRESSFUL?

Sometimes the thought of change sets off a cascade of distressing and worrying thoughts. Confusion, stress and uncertainty can predominate. Remember, failure is only a bad thing if you do not take the experience and learn from it. Often, this is related to fear: fear of what the outcome of the change will be and how it will affect you and others; fear of trying something new or different; fear of failing.

• Maybe others in your immediate group fear the change and influence your opinion about it.
• Maybe you believe some things about the change that are not factual. For example, you believe that improving your Core Stability will not make any difference to your current injury, when in reality, it will help you to heal faster and prevent reoccurrence.
• Maybe you need more information to put an action plan in place, or to make the change occur successfully.
• Maybe you are in the habit of doing something a certain way and have not stopped to evaluate if it's the best way for you and that making a change might benefit you?

WHAT IF I AM "STUCK" AND CAN'T MAKE THE CHANGE THAT I WANT?

Sometimes you know the positive aspects of making a change, but you can't get started. Maybe you are being blocked by some of the factors listed above. Begin to overcome your fears by taking a small step towards change:
• List the "pros" and "cons" of the change to clarify where you are "stuck".
• Get more information and/or seek out the expertise of someone qualified, like a counselor.
• Clearly define your goals and set action plans.

WHAT ABOUT WHEN CHANGE OCCURS AROUND ME?

APPRECIATE that change is an inevitable part of life is the first step to successfully manage it when it occurs.
ANTICIPATE change and have some strategies to deal with it will also assist you to cope and adapt.
Remember change and growth go together; look for the positives in the situation.

"Champions Adjust."
Billie Jean King, tennis legend

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The contents of the Health site are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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