Force Field Analysis of a Personal Change
Force Field Analysis of a Personal Change
Personal change can be one of the most difficult challenges people face throughout their lives. Whether it is quitting smoking, converting to a religion, or choosing a major in college, life-changing decisions shape the circumstances of our future and must be carefully thought out by weighing the pros and cons. One method of approach is to conduct a force field analysis which helps minimize the forces preventing the change initiative. This paper will explain the concept of force field analysis, provide an example of personal change with associated driving and restraining forces, and provide a strategy that maximizes the driving forces to make the change possible.
Concept of Force Field Analysis
To understand how force field analysis is used to enhance planned change results, it is important to acknowledge Lewin’s theory of change. Kurt Lewin, known as the intellectual father of contemporary theories of applied behavioral science, perceived change as a complex activity caused by a shift in driving and restraining forces (Bierema, 2014). According to Lewin’s theory, change cannot occur unless one force is stronger than the other. Connelly (2017) illustrates this concept using a person sitting in a chair, where gravity is the driving force and the chair is the restraining force. The counteracting forces work to keep the person in a balanced state, or status quo. For the status quo to change, such as the person falling on the ground in this illustration, gravity must be strengthened, or the chair must be weakened.
Lewin created the force field analysis model based on his theory of change. The first step in the analysis process is to define a goal or vision for change. The second step is identifying the various forces that are driving the change and the ones that are resistant to the change. The third step involves scoring each force in terms of strength to support the final analysis. If the total score of all the driving forces is equal to or lower than the score of the restraining forces, the final step is planning a strategy to strengthen the driving forces.
To demonstrate the force field analysis process using a real situation, I recently became displeased with the status of my overall health and wellness. After some research, I am hopeful to change my unhealthy eating habits and set a goal to follow a vegan diet. My next step is to identify the forces driving and restraining my decision to make the change.
The primary force driving my desire for change is the health of my body. Although I do not currently have any significant medical issues, there is a trend of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease in my family. According to the Vegan Society (2019), studies have linked vegan diets to lower rates of blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, type two diabetes, and some cancers. I want to have a long-lasting life to enjoy the time I have with my family, so if a plant-based diet supports this goal, then I have to score this driving force very high.
Another strong driving force is the impact food industries have on our environment. The production of meat and other animal products requires an enormous amount of crops and water to feed the animals. Grain feed alone used for meat production is among the leading causes of deforestation, habitat loss, and species extinction (Vegan Society, 2019). Veganism, on the other hand, is less of a burden on our environment and can help reverse the damage created by animal farms and production plants. For this reason, I score this driving force moderately.
The strongest force counter-acting my desire for change is convenience. The thought of how much work is required to maintain a vegan diet makes my decision difficult. Paying more for groceries, learning new recipes, finding new grocery stores, and spending more time preparing meals are all concerns that contribute to my perception of how veganism will complicate and interrupt my lifestyle. Since I rank convenience a high priority, this restraining force receives a very high score.
Pleasure is also a powerful restraining force. Having grown up eating meat and dairy, I have several memories of eating delicious non-vegan meals. Beef, chicken, and pork were traditional staples of the dinner table for my family and became a meat-lover. If I decide to restrict meat from my diet, I fear the thought of being deprived of these very familiar food options will be difficult to overcome. Consequently, I score this force high.
The results from my initial steps of the force field analysis show that my vision for change is in a balanced state with equal forces that drive and restrain. If I want the change to occur, I need to upset the status quo by enhancing the driving forces. The final step of my force field analysis is strategizing which driving forces to strengthen or which restraining forces to weaken and how. Considering the restraining forces are scored fairly high and they both heavily influence my way of living; my initial plan is to weaken them first.
Two of my perceived inconveniences are paying too much for vegan-friendly groceries and finding new stores that sell those products. My first course of action is making a list of ingredients for a week-long vegan meal plan, visit my regular grocery store, and compare its total cost to the average cost of my typical grocery run. Despite the long list of items required for a healthier diet, I was surprised to discover that the total cost was less than my normal grocery bill. I contributed this result mainly to the high costs of all the meat I normally purchase. Additionally, I was even more surprised to find a decent selection of vegan-certified products throughout the store. As a result, I downgraded the score of convenience to moderate and added a driving force for lower grocery costs.
My next course of action is targeting my perception of missing out on the pleasure of eating meat by asking my vegan friends about their experience and trying it for myself. After confessing my love for the taste of beef, chicken, and pork to my vegan friends, they all ensured me that I would have several different options that substituted and closely resembled meat. I also learned that the market value for plant-based meat worldwide is forecasted to grow 167% by 2026 (Shahbandeh, 2019). Next, I tried a few samples of vegan meat replacements like tofu, bean-based burger patties, and jackfruit chicken wings. I was shocked at how great they tasted and was excited to learn more about meatless products. As a result, I downgraded the score of pleasure to low.
Overall, the force field analysis provided an effective basis for understanding which forces were most vulnerable to weaknesses. Fortunately, I was able to weaken the two restraining forces enough to cause the driving forces to propel my vision forward. By carefully evaluating each step of the force field analysis model, change is more likely to occur and remain effective.
The force field analysis model is a valuable tool for strategizing how to implement a change, especially personal change. Lewin’s assertion that change cannot occur unless one force is stronger is the fundamental concept behind the process that makes change possible and less susceptible to resistance. By identifying, scoring, and analyzing the driving and restraining forces of change, I was able to create a strategy and enhance the driving forces which enabled my vision of becoming a vegan to move in the direction of positive change.
Bierema, L. (2014). An introduction to organizational development. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Connelly, M. (2017, April 24). Lewin’s Force Field Analysis Explained. Retrieved from https://www.change-management-coach.com/force-field-analysis.html
Shahbandeh, M. (2019, November 7). Plant-based meat: forecasted market value worldwide 2018-2026. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/877369/global-meat-substitutes-market-value/
Vegan Society. (2019). Why go vegan? Retrieved from https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/why-go-vegan
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