Which category do you fall into?
It’s important to understand that change doesn’t happen instantaneously. More often than not, it takes time because it’s a process.
There are stages to the change process, and you have to move through them before transformation happens. The Stages of Change Model, created by James O. Prochaska and Carlo Di Clemente, describes thes change process. Knowing where you fall on this model will help you determine what you need to do next to ensure you create the change you desire—or need.
The Not-Ready-for-Change Stage
The not-ready stage, also called precontemplation, finds you with no intention of changing any time soon—at least not in the next six months.
You may be uninformed or under-informed about the consequences of your behavior, or maybe you’ve failed at change in the past. In each case, that colors your sense of being ready and able to change in the present. Your friends, family, and coworkers may see you as resistant, unmotivated, or unready for help.
Think of a change you would like to make. Maybe you want to meditate daily, but you never find the time. And no matter what anyone suggests, you write the solution off as unworkable. At the not-ready stage, the possibility of meditating consistently feels unattainable.
The Getting-Ready Stage
When you enter the getting-ready stage, known contemplation, you begin seriously thinking about changing—if not this moment then in the next six months.
While you may be acutely aware of all the reasons not to change, you also possess a keen awareness of why change would prove beneficial. You still may feel ambivalent about change, though. This is caused by a constant weighing of the pros and cons and costs and benefits of changing.
People who get stuck in this stage often characterize themselves as “over thinkers.” They stay in their heads rather than take action in the world.
Using the meditation habit example, at the Getting-Ready stage, you have thought about the fact that meditation would allow you to achieve balance and spiritual connection. Yet, you know that developing that habit would require that you give up some things—like an extra hour of sleep in the morning. So, you toggle between wanting to meditate daily and wanting to stay in your comfort zone.
The Ready Stage
When you enter the ready stage, you plan to take action sooner rather than later—such as in the next month. That’s why this stage is also called preparation.
Now, you have an action plan. You know what to do next, and you feel just almost prepared to take that step.
At the ready stage, you are working to create time daily for meditation. Maybe you are making a list of activities to cut out and trying to go to bed earlier so you can wake up earlier and meditate before work. Perhaps, you’ve also given yourself a firm start date, such as in two weeks. You might have even told your family members that you plan to begin meditating and would like their support.
The Action Stage
You are in the action stage if you have made specific modifications in your lifestyles within the past six months. In other words, you’ve done something differently and taken steps toward transformation. Your actions are observable and, possibly, consistent.
You may not have created a habit or transformed yourself or your life, but you are on your way to a new way of being in the world. Now, you are meditating on a consistent schedule. You may miss a few days here and there because you don’t yet have a firmly rooted habit, but you are on the way to developing one.
At the action stage, you haven’t totally stepped into the identity of “meditator.” But you can say definitively that you do, indeed, meditate.
The Maintenance Stage
Finally, you hit the maintenance stage of the change process. You’ve made specific overt modifications in your lifestyles and are working to keep up your habit.
At this point, you are less tempted by the things that use to take you away from meditating. Daily meditation has increased your confidence in your ability to change—and to continue your meditation practice. You might experience occasional periods where you backtrack and fall out of the meditation habit. Still, you can catch yourself and restore the habit quickly and easily.
You now call yourself a meditator. It’s who you are and how you see yourself. Others, likely, see you that way, too.
Using the Model for Transformation
Using the Prochaska and Di Clemente Stages of Change Model, can you identify your current stage? It’s essential to do so. When you can identify the stage, you know what you need to do next to move toward the change you desire.
When you aren’t ready, you have to get ready. If you’ve prepared, you need to get clear about what it would take to be prepared to change. And when you are ready, you need to take action. When you have successfully changed, it’s time to focus on strategies that prevent you from falling back into your old way of being.
As with any process, you have to intentionally work through the stages of change. But when you know the steps in the change process, you can take them more easily. And that knowledge makes most people more willing and able to change.
Are you not ready, getting ready, or ready for change? Have you already taken action, or are you in the maintenance stage of change? Tell me in a comment below. And if you know someone that would find this post helpful, please share it!
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