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  • Writer's pictureTania Caza

How many times have you tried to shift or change a behavior only to feel like you’ve digressed?

In early 2019 I decided to get braces and chose Invisalign. About 18 months later, I had these perfectly straight teeth and a smile I had wanted since childhood! From late 2020 onwards, I did all the things I was supposed to: wear the retainer nightly, go for my check-ups, etc. Now, about 20 months later after stopping Invisalign, I thought I noticed one of my teeth going crooked again. Every day I would look at myself in the mirror and ask whether it had moved. I couldn’t be sure. Maybe I was imagining it? Yes, yes…I am definitely imagining it. I had just been for a check-up in January and it is now April. How could it move so much in 4 months? I talked myself into believing that I was imagining it. This past week I went to my dentist’s office for a cleaning. All the past photos they had taken of my teeth were up on the screen and I immediately noticed a different smile. I asked the hygienist what she noticed and she said, ”Oh my, it looks like 2 of your teeth moved!” She quickly got me in to see my orthodontist, who almost fell out of the chair when he saw how much they moved. “That is absolutely horrible!” he said. So, he is putting me back on Invisalign to move them back.

So, more life lessons for me as I apply this learning to behavior change:

☑️ Always have a reference point so you know where you are growing from. Change happens slowly over time and it is hard to identify any change from one day to the next. If I had that photo at home, I would have immediately known that there was a digression. As the saying goes, “what gets measured gets done”.

☑️ Believe in yourself. Listen internally and get really honest with yourself. If I was really honest with myself, I knew there was a change. Maybe I didn’t want to admit it because, ugh, who wants to wear Invisaligns again. If I had only trusted my instinct, I would have gone in to see my orthodontist 6-8 weeks earlier. Who knows how much worse it got in that time frame? Now I have more repair to do because I didn’t nip it in the bud early on.

☑️ Have a sustainability plan. I reached the goal I wanted to achieve and yet I allowed it to revert back. Having a sustainability plan would have allowed me to keep up with my goal and notice if it started slipping back. Then I could quickly intervene and get myself back on track.

☑️ Work with a Professional. In this case, it was my orthodontist. But, if it’s my nutrition, I work with a nutrition coach. If it’s a goal with my business, I work with a business coach. If it’s my mental wellness, I might work with a therapist. Whatever the change is, get the help from the right kind of professional.

☑️ Acknowledge that part of change is set backs along the way, and it is all still growth.

How will you sustain or advance your behavior change once you’ve achieved it?


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