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Monday, January 10, 2011

Sticking to things

I suspect the New Year has brought in many 'must do' and 'things to do' promises for people.

Gain muscle, lose weight, run faster, pass that grading, start that philosophy or sports fitness course etc. These are all worthy goals but will people stick to the regime of work to achieve these ends ?

This post is about adhesion  and sticking to your path of activity. I am doing a sport psychology unit and this diagram comes from one of the models of adhesion we looked at. It really caught my eye, (I will say later, why). To achieve the new goal we have to behave in a new way.

 "Figure 8.3 shows how an individual goes through a cyclical series of stages when they change a behaviour. They may start off having had no thought or desire to change their behaviour (precontemplation), but then something may cause them to think about changing their behaviour (contemplation), which will lead to a period of preparation followed by action, which, if sustained, will in turn lead to maintenance. However, the individual may not sustain their changed behaviour, which will lead to the termination of that behaviour".

Rea,S. (2010) 'Adherence and group dynamics' in E233 Sport and exercise psychology: a case study approach, (2010). The Open University.

I can map this model onto my own 'journey' in martial arts, (and other activities that involved behavioural investments).

So precontemplation is when I did no martial arts but way well have been aware of Karate from playing computer games and films. Contemplation is when you start toying with the idea of doing the art but it is in the 'things to do / nice things to want to do list'. Here I saw someone at church who new Wing Chun give me a demo. He was Chinease and I was under the assumption this was a magic power he had, as his sticking hands and blocks were of good quality and he showed me the theory that underlies what he was doing. (Theory is the blue prints to any activity - get your hands on that to make your life easy - from academia to chess etc.).

'Preparation' for doing some martial arts came from buying books and borrowing library books. I wrote the British Kung Fu association for a local group. (note the singular here this was the 80s and there was not that much available that was not Shotokan). Note too, this is actual activity that is compatible with my goal. I am doing something not just mental.  This is 'work'. But it cannot stop here.

Action. Doing it. I took JKD lessons. I could not believe I had actually rung up someone and had the courage to do this. I remember when I had committed myself to the first lesson thinking 'what have I done now'. But I did it and had more lessons and did another martial art when I left home. I was stretching and drilling in private. Etc. This was maintenance work. BUT after a few years things stopped. no training partners or classes even. This was a relapse.

Then the cycle began again from 2002 onwards .... where I think it would be a good idea .... and we are back to contemplation again.

This shows us how adhesion is not linear but like the tide, comes in and out.It is cyclical.

The processing of getting and using the wooden dummy is very similar. The contemplation stage lasted about 9 months. I have not relapsed in my use of the dummy. I have never stopped for a long passage of time, just weather affects me sometimes.

The model is useful as if you can plot yourself / others on the cycle then you can find interventions that will modify their behaviour relative to where they are. So if you want to provoke contemplation for a weight loss regime you may want posters of tubby people versus a slim person, (often the same person), laying about. This plants a seed in their mind, 'what if'. Someone who needs help with maintenance would need a different form of intervention - maybe a study buddy, or training partner, as a poster would not be of value there.

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