A theory of change is a theory.

About change!

It enables you to envision wellness and develop a plan to help you get there.

It's the hypothesis part of the scientific method. It says: if I do this, I think that will happen.

Theory of Change

There are a number of ways we could begin the process of creating a personal theory of change. This post approaches this task through four steps:

  1. Choose a wellness wheel;
  2. Define peak wellness;
  3. Create interim goals; &
  4. Design your intervention.

Step 1: Create Your Wheel

Choose a wellness wheel that works for you. I explore this in part 1 of this post: Create Your Own Wellness Wheel.

You can choose one with with four dimensions, like the Medicine Wheel (see below), or eight, like this rainbow version, or even an extreme 16, like the example I share in part 1 of this post.

Ancient Wisdom Teachings

In part 1 of this post I acknowledged that wellness is the foundation of many of our Ancient Wisdom Teachings. In an earlier post, I traced the theoretical history of biohacking, and included Ancient Wisdom Teachings as a core element in that evolution

One such teaching is the Medicine Wheel.

The Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel includes four dimensions with complex meanings. On one level, the four quadrants represent the emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual domains.

Shannon Thunderbird explains that "the Medicine Wheel assists in helping to seek: strong, healthy bodies (East) strong inner spirits (South), inner peace (West),  healthy minds (North). The term "Medicine" as it is used by First Nations people does not refer to drugs or herbal remedies. It is used within the context of inner spiritual energy and healing or an enlightened experience. The central essence of the medicine wheel is that each of you must make your own choices."

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In the spirit of making your own choices:

Step 2: Define Peak Wellness

Once you have your own wellness wheel, you are ready to set your desired outcomes.

To do that, use your wheel to define what 'peak wellness' means to you in each dimension.

You can borrow definitions or create your own understanding of wellness for each area.

As an example, here's a definition of Emotional Wellness:

Emotional wellness includes awareness and acceptance of one’s own feelings and the feelings of others.  This dimension involves the experience of positive mental health, including feeling loved, feeling optimistic about life, being comfortable with self-expression and having the capacity to deal with stress.  Emotional wellness includes the development of resilient inner resources to facilitate personal growth in the context of healthy interdependent relationships and community.

You can start by defining peak wellness in all domains or in one.

In this stage just envision peak wellness. Don't worry about how to get there!

Once you have defined peak wellness for one or more domains, you have your desired outcome(s).

Step 3: Create Interim Goals

We all want peak wellness, but our goals, at first, might be modest.

Interim goals are stepping-stones that help us get closer to what we ultimately want. They can be as easy to acheive as we please.

To set interim goals you simply need to decide where to place the stepping stones to get you from your current state to your desired one.

Current State~Desired State

Perhaps you use the following definition of emotional wellness: Peak emotional wellness means positive mental health, including feeling loved, feeling optimistic about life, being comfortable with self-expression and having the capacity to deal with stress.

There's a lot there!

Four elements, actually:

  1. Feeling loved;
  2. Feeling optimistic about life;
  3. Being comfortable with self-expression; and
  4. Having the capacity to deal with stress.

Start with one.

What would be one thing that would help you feel more comfortable with self-expression?

Doing art? Starting a blog? Joining toast masters? Sharing your poetry? Practicing saying no?

Sometimes the interim goals aren't obvious. If they were, you might have achieved them already.

You might need to do some research.

Which doesn't mean you have to delay starting. Research can be an interim goal: I will research what will help me feel more optimistic about life as a stepping stone to reaching emotional wellness.

Research can take 2 forms:

  1. Inquiry into what other people have found effective;
  2. Inquiry into yourself (n=1).

Ask: How have other people become more optimistic about life (especially in circumstances that are similar to mine)?

Observe: Under what circumstances do I feel more optimistic about life?

Once you think you discern a pattern (such as it seems that under these circumstances I feel more optimistic about life), then you have your interim goal: to arrange for those circumstances more consistently.

4. Design your intervention

Your intervention is simply your strategy to ensure you arrange the pattern of your life in ways that will enable you to reach your interim goals.

Your intervention is the experiment part of the scientific method.

It can be fun. And broken into bite-sized stages.

Your Theory of Change

If you put the whole thing, steps 1-4, in a sentence, you have a theory of change.

You have a hypothesis:

If I do this, I think that will happen. And these are the interim goals I've set to help me test my theory of change and keep me on track in my quest for peak wellness.

You don't have to transform yourself overnight.

With a theory of change, you don't have to.

Featured Resource

The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook

Pursue peak wellness with an Instant Pot and it's companion, the Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook.

The Instant Pot does a lot of things but, wow... the pressure cooker function.

I had never used a pressure cooker before, but the Instant Pot makes pressure cooking effortless and non-intimidating.

In the early days of our n=1 experimentation, bone broth used to require 2-3 days in the slow cooker. And I had to plan my whole day around cooking. No more. The Instant Pot reduces cooking to minutes. The results are better. Leaving me with more time for my life.

The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook includes over 140 recipes by 37 AIP food bloggers, including me.

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