Where are you in the phases of change? Are you ready for change?
Do you want something in your life to be different? Perhaps to overcome a habit, increase self-esteem, improve a situation, develop a skill or manage stress more effectively? All change has 5 phases, according to the work of Prochaska and Di Clemente. It’s worth knowing these to see a) where you are and b) where you want to be. This article will help you to understand that. Here are the phases of change so you can assess if you are ready for change yet and how to move on to the next level.
Phase 1: Precontemplation
The first phase is Precontemplation. What I call Denying. It is where a problem is either not big enough, or change seems more painful than the problem is. It may be that others want you to change but you don’t see that it’s in your interest. Yet. However, denial doesn’t mean a problem doesn’t exist. The consequences build up until they can no longer be ignored.
The thing about this phase is that if the problem is not causing enough pain, or the alternative is not attractive enough, someone else wanting it for you won’t be enough to motivate you to change. You have to want it for yourself. However, the longer you leave it, the more difficult it becomes. Really understanding the benefits of staying where you are versus the benefits of change is going to be a key factor for you.
Tip: Not deciding to create change is a decision for the status quo. What will serve you better, staying as you are or moving forward? Sometimes we have to accept short term pain for long term gain.
Phase 2: Contemplation
The second phase is Contemplation. What I call Wishing. This is where you wish things were different. You are thinking about change but perhaps are worried that you will fail. Or that you will lose a part of yourself if you do. Or that it will be too difficult.
This is where understanding the pros and cons at a deeper level will be really important. Follow these instructions as fully as possible:
- List the benefits of status quo
- Make a note of the benefits of change
- Now write down the disadvantages of change
- Finally make a list of the disadvantages of staying as you are
Really take your time with this exercise and come up with as many answers as possible as you will increase your ‘why’ which is important to give you motivation and momentum. It also helps you understand what is keeping you stuck. The questions might sound the same but they are subtly different.
It is reassuring to note that you don’t lose yourself, you just lose the baggage that stops you being your true self. Or a bad habit you don’t want. You don’t lose you.
Tip: See if you have some workarounds to the ‘stuck state’. I go into this in my book 21 Ways and 21 Days to the Life You Want. If you can do this, you can move forward. Otherwise, you will keep getting pulled back into the old ways.
Phase 3: Preparation
Next is preparation. What I call Deciding. This is getting ready for change and creating a plan of action. Whether that is to call me for help (it’s hard to do it on your own), or coming up with your own plan is up to you. But a plan is needed. Sometimes, you can be so confused that a plan seems too difficult. This is where professional help can really boost your chances of success.
Tip: Be clear about where you are now and where you want to be before you create your action plan which will be all the steps you need to take between the two points.
Phase 4: Action
Next we have action. What I call the Doing phase. A plan is not enough. You have to implement it, one step at a time. This will need you to keep reminding yourself of your ‘why’ so that your goal creates momentum for you. Sometimes you need to adjust your course a little to keep on track, just like a ship in rough seas, but always keep your overall direction in mind.
Tip: Motivation can waver, especially in times of challenge. Always keep your goal in mind and take good care of yourself so that you are in the best place to keep going. The only way out is through.
Phase 5: Maintenance (Maintaining).
Finaly we have maintenance. This is where your new behaviours or habits are in place but you might also be vulnerable to lapse. Keep your eyes on your ‘why’ and forgive yourself for the odd lapse. This is just an opportunity for you to practice your new behaviours. We all learn from our mistakes and repetition of the positive behaviours/habits will mean they become stronger and stronger until they are your default pattern. I teach my clients the tools and techniques to make sure they are removing the right weeds and planting the right seeds.
Tip: If (and when) you lapse (this is normal), have a strategy about how to get back on course. Learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward. The rewards are there ….
My clients find that working with me, change is easier as we remove unconscious blocks. You can do it yourself, but it is easier with help, don’t you think?
Whatever you decide, keep a big ‘why’ in mind. I would encourage you to buy 21 Ways and 21 Days to the Life You Want which is filled with techniques to help you. Hope is not a strategy – change is possible with clarity and persistence, and perhaps a little help along the way so that you have the support you need during the tough times and to keep you on track for success so you enjoy the good times more.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, or want to know more about how I could help you, do feel free to call me on 0345 130 0854 for an informal, no obligation chat. You’ll be glad you did!