Stages to Change

“They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself,” Andy Warhol. Since it is the beginning of the year, it is the time of change, so what a better post than Change. Most of us are trying to change habits, to make a better version of ourselves, whether it’s to lose weight or quit smoking. Change in behavior doesn’t usually come all at once, though. There are stages. Each person progresses through these stages at their own rate. Each person must decide for themself when a stage is completed and when it is time to move on to the next stage. I find that most people quit Body Change right before they’re about to  make a change. Stable, long term change cannot be externally imposed. Stages of change:

  • Precontemplation: not yet acknowledging a problem in behavior. People tend to defend their current bad habits.
  • Contemplation: getting ready to make a change. Aware of the personal consequences of their bad habits. Often teeter-tottering back and forth between the pros and cons of change.
  • Preparation/Determination: getting ready to make a change. Made a commitment to change. Often a time of research. Sometimes people skip this stage and end up falling on their faces because they haven’t adequately researched or accepted what is going to take to make this major lifestyle change.
  • Action/Willpower: Changing behavior. Believe they have the ability to change. Shortest period. Generally takes 6 months, but it can be as short as 1 hour!
  • Maintenance: maintaining the changing behavior. Being able to successfully avoid temptations to return to the bad habit. Constantly reformulate rules of their lives and are acquiring new skills to deal with  and avoid relapse.
  • Relapse: return to old behaviors. More common to have at least one relapse than not. This can cause feelings of discouragement and failure. Generally, cycle through the 5 stages several times before achieving a stable lifestyle change.
  • Transcendence: Maintain maintenance long enough, that people are able to work with their emotions and understand their own behaviors and view it in a new light. Not only is the bad habit no longer an integral part of life, but returning to it would seem atypical, abnormal, even weird to you. This is the ulitimate goal of change.
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