• Emily

How Ready Are You To Change? Insights From The Stages Of Change Model

It's not just you - all humans are wired to be lazy. Change goes against our human nature, which is why it's so difficult to establish new, healthier habits.

Unless we perceive a very good reason to change, we won't do it. And even when we do see the value in making a change, it doesn't mean that it will be easy to execute. We like stability, habit, and routine - we can't help it!

As a health coach, it is my job to understand where my client is on the stages of change model. But if you want to become your own health coach, this is also valuable information for you.

The stages of change model refers to a person's willingness, readiness, and execution of a change (often used in health and behavioral sciences). This model describes how we can overcome our inherent desire to be lazy.

Stage 1: Precontemplation

This is the blissfully oblivious stage. People in the precontemplation stage have no intention of changing their habits and may not even know that what they are doing is unhealthy. For example, a person in this stage may have no intention of exercising in the near future or making any changes to their diet.

Stage 2: Contemplation

The contemplation phase is where people start to think about making a change, but haven't yet put that thought into action. Maybe they have googled a few gyms nearby or considered going on a diet. This is often the stage when people weigh the pros and cons of making a change. Is the challenge worth it? Or are they willing to live with the negative consequences that come with maintaining their current situation?

Stage 3: Preparation

By stage 3, people have taken some action towards the change they wish to make. Maybe they went for a jog or added a serving of vegetables to their diet. People in this stage are often optimistic and excited at the prospect of the positive outcomes change can bring them.

Beware of the preparation stage! It is the most common stage for people to give up as soon as things get tough. An interruption in their schedule or personal life suddenly lands them back in the contemplation or even precontemplation phase. It is important to set realistic, achievable goals during the preparation phase in order to maintain confidence and motivation.

Stage 4: Action

Stage 4 is when new behaviors start to become habits and routines. Usually, this is about 4-6 months into the behavior change. This is when you continue to battle with barriers but try creative solutions to overcome them. If you are tired of your regular gym routine maybe it's time to try a new class or take up jogging.

Stage 5: Maintenance

As the name suggests, this phase is all about a long-term commitment to your healthy change. The maintenance stage does not imply that it is always easy to execute your healthy behavior, but at least you are well practiced and know which triggers tend to get in your way.

In order to stay in the maintenance stage, it is important to keep yourself motivated and seek out social support when you falter. It is possible to be in the maintenance stage for one behavior and a different stage for another. If you are confidently in the maintenance stage for one habit, maybe it's time to try another!

Using Stages of Change To Your Advantage

While we would all like a simple, linear progression through these stages the truth is that it hardly ever happens that way. People tend to float between stages for a while before reaching and staying in the maintence stage.

But we can still learn from this undulation. Each time you sense you have fallen into an earlier stage, identify why. Consider how you could approach the challenge differently the next time to increase the likelihood of your success. Sometimes it's a matter of trial and error.

As with most things in life, the key is to never give up. Keep setting goals, educating yourself, and taking time for self-reflection. You have the power to change your habits and change your life. So, what are you waiting for?

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