The Stages Of Change
Pre-Contemplation – I’m sure you can guess what this stage is all about. This is really before any thoughts of changing occur. There is awareness that these is a problem, like in most addictions when people have already tried to curb their use or stop altogether. This stage is characterized by denial and possibly ignorance if this behavior is something like overeating. Unless warned of the health risks, people may not know what they are doing.
Contemplation – This is when there is acceptance of a problem. There is no longer the rose colored glasses that have been obscuring the “problem”. However, there is a lot of ambivalence here. It’s a person realizing all of the work that it is going to take to really change. Giving up a behavior that is familiar can be emotional. If a person’s only coping mechanism has been eating, drinking, using sarcasm as a defense mechanism, you name it… there is going to be emotion over giving this thing up.
Preparation – This is when information collection begins. You may have experience in your life deciding “I’m going to change _____” but then you never develop a plan and you fail. You cycled through pre-contemplation and contemplation, but never entered preparation. This stage is marked by small changes the equivalent of dipping your big toe into a pool to check the temperature. A plan is also developed. Changers begin doing the research needed to make a permanent change.
Action – YAY! This is where the actual change occurs. The car has been moved out of neutral and is fully in drive now. People start noticing this change. It’s important that outside support is found and rewarded for success in change. If you’re trying to lose weight, people notice the changes you’re making inside and out. I don’t know if any of you out there have ever made a change for the better, but when I started seriously working out and someone noticed for the first time I was back in the gym that night like, “Yeah! It’s working!”
Maintenance – This is the tough one. This is where the new behavior becomes a habit instead of a conscious decision every day. It’s getting out of bed at 5:30 a.m. for a morning workout EVERY DAY. It’s abstaining from substances which are bad for you, no matter the temptation. You’ve seen the good things the change does for you in your daily life and you understand it’s better to keep up this behavior then to revert back. Sure, slipping and having chocolate cake on a healthy eating plan is okay. Having cookies every day is not maintenance. This is the place where a lot of people relapse. It’s okay though! Life isn’t about being perfect, it’s just about making it through that day of behavior change. -Source