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Stages of Change

Like most things, change has different stages and different levels. If you find yourself not taking the steps you feel you need, to make changes, then perhaps you have misjudged what stage you are at for change and you require a new strategy. There are actually 6 different stages of change, if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with someone because you feel they aren’t trying hard enough to change, then perhaps you will find this insight helpful.


The first stage is pre-contemplation. This is when you are not yet ready or willing to make change. You will hear the words, “I can’t” or “I won’t”. Often if you are trying to push someone to be making progress when they are not ready you will hear the words, “yeah, but…” after your suggestions. When you hear “yeah, but…” it means you are trying to move someone faster then they are ready and you need to take a step back. The first steps in pre-contemplation are about raising awareness, connecting more with the emotions of changing rather than the physical act.

The second stage is contemplation. When someone sees the possibility of making a change but is still ambivalent or uncertain. This stage is best for pro’s and cop’s lists, doing the research into the benefits of making the change and how to go about the change, what steps are involved.


The third stage is preparation. This is when you are really starting to get ready to make the change. This is when it is helpful to make a commitment and voice it to someone. Time to start removing the cues of the no longer wanted behaviour, talking to those that are important in your life about making the changes. Its time to start coming up with the plan for your new behaviour change.


The fourth stage is action. This is the stage we expect everyone to be in straight away when the discussion of change is on the table, that is a misconception. As you can see there are 3 steps before this that need to be adhered to first. This is starting your new behaviour, when you are ready for the changes to be put in place. This is when that original motivation is your greatest driver.


The fifth stage is maintenance. This is quite obvious with its name, it is when you have kept up with your behaviour change and it is more like a habit rather than a forced behaviour. This is about finding yourself in the swing of things and working out how you can make this habit stick in your life.


The sixth stage of change is relapse. People often feel like they have failed a behaviour change when they fall into relapse, but it is important to remember it can be a normal part of behaviour change. These six steps all run in a continuous circle. Relapse is not the end of the behaviour, it is just a speed hump for you to reassess what you were doing and how to circle back around the wheel of stages of change.


What stage are you on with your different behaviours? Where have you been more in contemplation or pre-contemplation and getting frustrated with yourself because your expecting to already be in maintenance? How can you use these facts to help create new behaviours in your life?


It is key to realise that long-lasting behaviour change happens over time and takes a plan and structure to set it in. use these 6 different stages of change to progress your way to living a healthier lifestyle and take care of yourself.

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