Stages of Change & How to Make them Work for you

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Most people flounder when the time comes to make permanent changes in their life, be that their business or their wellbeing.

People generally make the hasty decision to start a business, start an exercise program or cut back on unhealthy eating, all with the hopes that merely deciding to do so it is enough.

Before you jump into exercising 5 days per week or going full-out with your new business, take the time to plan for long term change.

Some people are familiar with the Trans-theoretical Model discussing the stages of change that people go through when making a change.

The five stages are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

This article focuses on the first three stages, as they are important in setting the foundations to create success with a new action.

It all really comes down to proper preparation, physically and mentally to get the best possible results. By taking the time to plan in advance how a new action or habit is going to fit into your lifestyle, you are more likely to enjoy the process and gain the rewards long-term.

Pre-contemplation is where you are not even thinking about making a change to your health and fitness routine. Contemplation is where you start to think that maybe you should focus on your health and fitness. You are intending to do so, but not just yet. Preparation is when you are ready to start preparing to take action.

Let’s look at each step in detail and how you can actually apply it to your life.

Pre-contemplation stage-

If you are at this stage, a part of you feels that you should start making changes to lifestyle to be healthier, or you feel that maybe you should consider doing something else in your line of work.

You are not really ready to make any dramatic changes, so you delay doing anything about it.

So what is the best way to move towards contemplation?

Action Steps:

Ask yourself these key questions:

How is avoiding to make changes to my lifestyle or career for example, costing me in terms of how I could live my life?

What is popping up that is preventing me from making the changes necessary to be healthier or to do something else for my career?
How am I justifying staying as I am?

Once you have established some of the reasons you have held yourself back in terms of making changes to your lifestyle, start making a list of your “why’s” to wanting to change.

What are going to be the benefits to creating a change in each particular area?

If you have something positive to move towards, you can start getting excited!

Contemplation stage-

This stage is where you know you need to make changes but are not really sure how to go about doing this, let alone ready to take action!

So what is the best way to move towards preparation?

Action Steps:

Start by taking a self- assessment of where you are at the moment in terms of your health and fitness or career (depending which goal you are working on).

Write down your baseline measurements such as current weight, waist size etc., and decide on your ideal health & weight goals.

If your career needs a change, establish some baselines such as hours worked now, how much you earn, and then decide what your ideal business and lifestyle would be like.

Assess how your new ‘deal’ will fit in with your current lifestyle.
Start by introducing a few small changes into your routine, such as eating a portion of fruit or adding more steps to your day for a fitness example.
For a business example, set up a basic Facebook Fanpage and start assessing if you like the ins and outs of online marketing and content creation.

These small changes can then act as a catalyst to launch a more structured regime.

Preparation stage-

This is the stage where you are get prepared to do what is necessary to reach your goals. You may have already made an attempt to change your routine or habits

This can be the fun part of the whole process, as you can literally design how you want your life to work.

No, it is not easy to always stick to everything you say you are going to do, but it is a start by moving in the right direction.

Action steps:

Create a plan of action on what you want to work on. Write down your plan of action.

For example, exercising three times per week (know the exact program), eating 5+ fruit and vegetables each day (know which fruit/vegetables) and managing your stress levels by taking time out for you each day (what time and where).

Now that you have a vague idea of your goals, clarify them a bit further; be specific, make it measurable, and set a time limit.

This step is all about making sure you know exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals.

The first three steps of this model are all about the pre-preparation to launch a new routine.

By taking the time to work through these stages and prepare, you will reap more rewards from your efforts and set the tone for long term change.