The 6 stages of change

Making a change is always a tough one.

Regardless of the change you want to make, your brain will give you a lot of pushback. The bigger the change you’re tackling, the bigger the resistance.

It’s valid for changing your job, starting your dream business, creating a new project or revenue stream, changing your life and health habits, you name it.

It has to do with finding the right motivation, crafting and executing the right plan, preparing for the possible and imminent setbacks, and identifying the proper support and accountability framework. And once you start the change, finding the ways to keep you motivated to stay on track, even when your old habits are whispering so softly in your ears.

There is a lot of research on attempting change, and quite a few models that look at it.

One of these models is the Transtheoretical Model. Also known as the Stages of Change, or TTM, it was developed in the late ’70s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente. As they were trying to understand why some smokers are able to quit by themselves, while others are not, they developed the model based on three key premises:

  1. Change is a cyclical process, not a one-time hit and run thing.
  2. Change is dependent on your commitment to intentionally change and your willingness to make aligned decisions.
  3. Different stages of change call for different behavioral theories and intervention constructs.

So here are the 6 stages of change, as per the transtheoretical model, that can help you see where you’re at when you attempt to change.

Transtheoretical Model - the 6 Stages of change
The 6 stages of change, as per the transtheoretical model.

1. Precontemplation:

You have no intention of changing your behaviors within the next six months.

2. Contemplation

You can see how you’d benefit from changing your behavior and are likely to take action steps to do so, perhaps within the next six months to one year.

3. Preparation/Determination

You’re gearing up to take action, you’re making plans.

4. Action

You’ve been busy the last several weeks or months, turning over a new leaf, and making changes (for instance, you didn’t just trade in the cigarettes for vaping but have abstained from smoking altogether.)

5. Maintenance

At this stage of change, you’re not so much making further changes as you’re sustaining the changes you’ve already implemented.

6. Termination

You have no desire to return to your previous habits and are certain you’ll not regress to an earlier stage or relapse. This is the ultimate goal!

This model is valid for pursuing any type of change, including changing unhealthy habits for better-serving healthier ones.

The journey to change is not a straight line. It’s usually a bumpy road. With backslides and regressions to earlier stages. With a lot of drama and inner daunting conversations on the pros and the cons. And with walking the thin line between the tempting old familiar ways and the promising new, yet challenging, future.

Sleep is a big one for me and I’m at stage 4 with going to bed before midnight.

Let me know down below what’s one healthy habit that you’re working into your life or thinking about starting?



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