As you look back to birth and compare where you are now, it is quite obvious to see change has happened. Physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. This type of change is inevitable and as we grow , we come to expect to see change. Behaviour change however and especially in relation to lifestyle and physical activity can be a little less expected and more effortful than just growing more because you ate your veggies.
Although it may take a little more focus and determination you can successfully make positive changes in your life and to your overall health benefiting your quality of life. To get there though, we often need to go through the five stages of change to really change a behaviour. Baring in mind some behaviours are also poor habits but can also be changed through these five specific stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
STAGE 1 – Precontemplation is the stage where there is generally no intention to change behaviour in the foreseeable future. Many individuals in this stage are unaware or under-aware of their problems.” Some people call this phase “denial.”
STAGE 2 – Contemplation is the stage in which people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it but have not yet made a commitment to take action.” Many people in this stage can be described as ambivalent or having mixed thoughts or contradicting feelings about change. They want to quit smoking but are not yet ready to cut back on the cigarettes.
STAGE 3 – The Preparation stage can be considered the information gathering and planning stage. The preparation stage is the most important and if missed can be the determining factor when tracking or measuring the success long term. According to Prochaska in his book, Changing for Good, fifty percent of the people who attempt behaviour change and skip this stage will relapse within 21 days. To create lasting change , some planning and best steps of action need to be set out.
STAGE 4 – Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behaviour, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioural changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy.” During the action stage, one implements the plans developed and information gathered in the preparation stage.
STAGE 5 – “Maintenance is the stage where people work to prevent relapse and build on the gains made during the action stage.
When you move from stage 3 to 4 , you will need to invest some of your resources such as time, energy or money. In some cases to be able to really progress through to the maintenance stage you may need to invest all three. By throwing in 100% of your resources available you are more likely to see and make the change you are wanting a little fast but your energy is always going to be invested in the behaviour change to ensure this is an ongoing benefit to your lifestyle.
So sometimes when we or others say “I want to get fit” or “I need to lose 10kgs” there can be a bit of a process to get through first. Seeking out the right information or options to change is important in taking a successful road to that change so don’t miss the preparation stage and be sure to get the adequate accountability you need to hold on and prevent relapse in the maintenance stage.