All of us have attempted to make a change in our life. We wanted to change our behavior, like not biting our nails or smoking. Or we wanted something more long term, like getting sober or altering/eliminating your trauma response. Or anything in between.
Either way, we have all embarked on the journey of attempting to change for the healthier, or positive to gain a better version of ourselves. The stages of change really help you to get a sense of where you are on your journey of self improvement. A lot of therapists will also use this in their work to help identify and help further to navigate you through your change process. The following are the stages of change:
Precontemplation -This is where you are not necessarily ready for change and you may not realize there is even a problem area that does need to be changed. A lot of the times when you are in the precontemplation stage your friends, family and maybe even coworkers will see the behavior that needs changing before you do. However, you may notice it and are simply not ready to quit smoking or face your traumas. That is ok! Change will be there when you are ready and supported.
Contemplation – When in the contemplation stage of change you are thinking about change and may not be quite ready for change but maybe soon. You may be thinking to yourself, “I should seek help for this but I just don’t feel ready” My question to you would be, “How would you know you are ready for change?” If you ask yourself what readiness would look like for you, you may be able to move to the next stage of change easily.
Preparation – Ever use or hear the saying, “I am getting my ducks in a row” before embarking on something new? Well my friend, that is the preparation stage of change. This is where you are getting ready for change. You may be looking up information, gathering supplies, getting your support network together. This will all get you hyped for the action stage.
Action – In the action stage of change you are taking the steps towards making the change. This can look so different for each behavior, maybe you are in therapy, or support groups. Either way this is where you take action and take the steps to making the change.
Maintenance -While you are in the maintenance stage of change you are keeping on track to keep the change steady. Most of the time you are in this stage for around six months before one would say you have completely transitioned into the change you wanted for yourself.
Relapse and Termination- Some say the final stage of change is relapse, meaning we sometimes revert back to the old unwanted behavior and its normal and ok, we just need to dive right back into our plan of action. According to psychologist James O. Prochaska, PhD, the final stage of change is termination, where you terminate the unhealthy and unwanted behavior and are integrating your new behavior.
Now that you know the stages of change, see if you can identify your stage for different behaviors and habits you have been trying to shift and change. I hope this helps on your journey for improvement!