20% of people are ready to take action and make a change in their lives at any given moment. But why does it take a lifetime for some people to make a change, and others simply act on it and swiftly make lifestyle changes?
The Transtheoretical Model for change is a venerable framework that describes the 5 stages that people go through when making a lifestyle change and/or breaking a bad habit.
The stages are:
1. Precontemplation. People in this stage are not considering, nor do they recognize, the need to make a change in the near future. This stage is sometimes referred to as “denial”. Many people in this stage are engaged in risky or unhealthy behavior.
2. Contemplation. People enter this stage when they become aware of a desire to change a particular behavior.
3. Preperation. The pros of changing have outweighed the cons and people are ready to start action on changing their behavior or habit within 30 days.
4. Action. People in this phase are in the middle of their action steps and daily rituals and good habits of change. This can be a very precarious phase however, as regressing and relapsing to an earlier stage is common, especially if the person hasn’t prepared properly or outlined a clear and consise path to action.
5. Maintenance. People in this phase have maintained and sustained succesful change for at least 6 months. It is here where individuals need to exert less effort in the change process and therefore, aren’t as likely to regress. This phase can last for the rest of one’s life.
It isn’t always just about willpower when making a change in your life, it’s also about the willingness to make that change, from deep inside yourself. Studies show that people who are succesful at change are:
* Focused on scuccess
* Practice change regularly
* Change their beliefs about themselves
Change is a process that occurs over time, it can progress in a linear fashion as well as a nonlinear fashion. It typically happens in short bursts more often than at a consistent rate. And, It is not unusual for somebody to spend years in precontemplation or contemplation before moving on to the Action phase of change.
Understanding the process and steps to changing, as well as preparing and committing to change will make your transition less difficult and ultimately more prone to succesful completion.
And remember the old saying, “whatever you FOCUS on GROWS”!!
Source: UMBC.edu & Fit Social Conference lecture w/Dr. Denise McGuire
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach