Just Another New Idea? Using action research to incorporate change in your life with less stress – Part 1 – Discovery

The Author

E. Alana James

E. Alana James

Dr E Alana James is reinventing herself again! Coming full circle to the first love of her life - art - and bringing back to her images all the lessons of her life as author, researcher, academic and wife. Concerned mostly with the idea of images as vehicles for expression of the truth of our inner and outer life experience.

I love new ideas! As a perpetual learner I am fascinated to first understand a new concept and then work out all the ways it can be put into action. Thus, years back when the concept of “paradigm shift” came into our vernacular I was smitten with the idea that what is seen as a “normal” type of behavior could change so completely as to signal a new evolutionary stage.

And indeed for years it appeared to me that this concept of change might work. For instance, email more or less replaced calling people on the phone, then I moved to Ireland and found a different norm: text messaging. I had to blend the two. Did the paradigm really change or just expand in its range of choices? After all, I still make telephone calls.

Change presents problems. If we change when an idea is new, it may prove to be faulty or quickly taken over by an even better idea. There we are, having invested in an idea that quickly deteriorated. I think of my brother-in-laws collection of laser disk movies as an example. On the other hand, if we wait too long and we may find ourselves not understanding a whole section of our world that others enjoy, leaving us feeling out-of-place. I see this in my writers group when others admit that they don’t use email. To quote a holiday card I received a few years back, “Isn’t it time we stopped asking for the seas to remain calm, and instead learned to sail in high winds?”

This article is the first of two articles, giving quick hints, using the process of action research to help you design the successful integration of “new paradigms” of thought into what you consider normal. The goal is to help you see change less as trauma and more as an adventure. Action research can help you incorporate change in your life with less stress. As I have written in other articles, don’t be worried by the word research, the three steps in action research will seem familiar. Yet the unique blend of how we use discovery, action and reflection in the process makes seemingly difficult things simple, thus allowing you to move ahead in areas you previously thought impossible.


During the discovery phase you want to learn about and compare the positive and negative attributes of how you are doing things now and how things will be different if you adopt the change you are considering. I recommend you draw out a table – with two rows at the top marking how things are now and how you can expect them to be once you have implemented the change you are considering. On the left hand side, list all the ways in which they compare. Your final chart will look similar to lists you see comparing the less expensive and more expensive models on products. You should be able to tell if and when you want to start making a change. Make notes or check marks where they cross to indicate how the two compare. Be sure to add time and money on your list, as the initial expense of new ideas is often a turning point in making decisions.

After a thorough examination, when it becomes clear that you want to move on a new idea – move to the next step which is to take small measurable actions, tracking their success.

The next article “Just Another New Idea? Using action research to incorporate change in your life with less stress – Part 2 – Action and Reflection” goes over the next two steps in this process.