The 6 Stages of Change

  • Change doesn't happen all at once or overnight.  Lasting change isn't always quick or easy.  Getting to the point where you commit to changing a behavior or a thought pattern takes effort.


    Stage 1 is Precontemplation.


    At this ploint you might not be aware of needing to change.  Or you might take a detour or make a false start in attempting to change.


    The risks of changing could seem to outweigh the benefits.  You might rue the effort it will take because it's not going to be easy.  What's easier: remaining stuck out of fear of what your life will be like when you've executed this change.

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    It might seem easier yet it's not healthier to do nothing.


    In the Precontemplation stage you preview the change by preparing yourself to take action.  The Action stage comes later.


    Here: you can write down the positive reasons to develop a fitness routine versus the danger of staying inactive.  You can read fitness and nutrition books to scope out the best kind of routines for your particular needs.


    Stage 2 is Contemplation.


    You need to execute this stage before you take action.  It's where you figure out the internal roadblocks keeping you from making the change(s) you want or know you need to.


    Here you can write out a contract where you commit to the new behavior.  It takes 21 days: 3 weeks of action: to make a behavior stick.


    Stage 3 is Preparation.


    Here you write out a plan and itemize the details of what you need to do to be successful.  It's a good idea to take action within one month of planning.

    You can set a one-week goal, a one-month goal, a three-month goal and a yearly goal.  Reward yourself along the way.


    Develop an alternative course of action if on certain days what you want to do is not possible.  This is your Plan B.


    Hold yourself accountable for achieving your goals to others you trust.  Be accountable to yourself first of all.


    It took me 7 years to leap into action on my fitness goals.  Setting no goals guarantees forward movement will be impossible regardless of where you're at in your life.


    A friend told me: "You must have a goal" when I felt it was an ongoing process with no payback at the gym.  Itemizing a S.M.A.R.T. goal is imperative: a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific.


    I created a goal to achieve by April 1st and it burns brightly.  A goal must be a result that fills a need in your life.  The idea is that "if you believe it, you can achieve it" when the goal is realistic and not overwhelming.


    Start by setting a goal you can reach and then move forward to acting on goals just slightly beyond your reach.


    A trainer at a gym famously derides women for busting it on the innie and outie machines rather than lifting weights.  I was guilty of this too. 


    I can tell you that even if it turns out you took a  detour starting out there's a benefit to trying out or trying on one technique or approach to see if it works.  Ideally, you'll do the research to get informed so you make the better choice to begin with.


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    Stage 4 is Action.


    It's time to Just Do It to quote the Nike slogan.


    Here you make it as convenient as possible to execute the change(s) for your own benefit.  You recognize that a slip-up here and there doesn't matter because you have your whole life ahead of you.


    Again: you reward yourself along the way.  You get psyched about what you did accomplish instead of beating yourself up for what you didn't do.


    You break your big goal into smaller, manageable sub-goals and daily and weekly action.


    Stage 5 is Maintenance.


    Use creative visualization.  Mentally rehearse yourself acting out the new  behavior and do this often.  Adapt your strategy as necessary.  Write down the benefits you've achieved in a Success Journal.  I was able to write down 33 positive things I created for myself in my life.  This kind of "achievement list" will power you through the hard times when you despair or the self-doubt comes on.


    Stage 6 is Termination.


    It's the end of the old way of life and the new action has replaced the thoughts or behaviors that held you back.


    Go out and treat yourself to a dinner out or a music CD or pedicure or whatever reward will energize you to continue your efforts.


    That's it: The 6 Stages of Change.


Published On: December 22, 2013