Modifying Behavior and Creating Change Is Easy

Sustaining it is the difficult part.

Posted May 07, 2019

Today's guest blogger is Abraham M. Gutsioglou, Ph.D., who helps clients create and sustain business transformations.

Modifying and changing behavior is easy? 

That’s right, modifying behavior and creating change is easy. It’s as simple as 1,2,3.

  • Step 1: Think of the behavior you want to modify or change that you want to implement at work.
  • Step 2: Take action.
  • Step 3: Celebrate, you have created change!

Here’s what an example looks like:

  • Step 1: Your friend wants to stop smoking.
  • Step 2: You encourage your friend to put out the cigarette and toss the rest in the trash. Boom, done!
  • Step 3: Since they did what you asked, you can celebrate, the change has taken place.

The same process holds true for workplace change. Let’s say that you are launching a new technology platform and you need people to use it.

  • Step 1: Inform employees they are getting a new fancy system to process sales orders and they won’t have to do by email anymore.
  • Step 2: Launch the system.
  • Step 3: Watch them use the new system.

Yep, it’s that easy. In fact, there is empirical evidence to support this: It’s called The Transtheoretical Model of Change. Google it.

By doing the above three steps you just completed 3/5 steps in their s-curve model.

So, what happens when your friend starts smoking again 3 hours after he quit or when the employees go back to their old ways instead of using your fancy million-dollar technology?

Ah, well that’s going to be a problem! I never said the change would stick. I said that sustaining it would be difficult. Not only is it difficult, but it will take an entire new post to walk you through the details of what you need to do to turn things around. Don’t worry, here are the basics from a 100,000ft point of view.

The recipe includes:

Mental Effort. Find ways to stimulate the mental reasoning and benefits for the desired change. Make It Emotional: Create processes that trigger emotions to positively reinforce recurrence.

Support the System. Create physical changes that promote and encourage the change while minimizing the possibility for major relapses. Minor setbacks are okay, it is the major ones you need to keep an eye on.

That’s it for now. Change is easy. Sustaining it is hard. Until next time. Keep the momentum going!


Prochaska, J.O., DiClemente, C.C., & Norcross, J.C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to the addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47, 1102-1114. PMID: 1329589.

Prochaska, J.O., Redding, C.A., & Evers, K. (2002). The Transtheoretical Model and Stages of Change. In K. Glanz, B.K. Rimer & F.M. Lewis, (Eds.) Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (3rd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.