The Challenge That Change Brings
In a earlier blog post, I have referred to challenges that I’ve had making changes despite knowing that it needs to be done. I believe it is something that takes time.
Think about it like this…say you’re a thirty something year old woman, and for most of your life you have had this bangin’ body. One that has allowed you to eat all the fried foods and sweets that you desired.
One day you wake up and realize your hips don’t lie…in fact, they have spread. In addition to this, you notice the mid-drift that you once bared proudly, is no more. Instead, a spare tire has taken its place.
Are you able to quit cold turkey, you know, stop eating that fantastically fried food, and delighting on those desserts? Will you be able to go hard in the gym if this was never your normal? Or, might you have a set back or two? Hmmm, I’m guessing that there will be some challenges during this process.
That is basically what the stages of change are. It pretty much describes how change works.
Oh, and remember when I said I was going to nerd out a bit sometimes? It’s coming! You have been warned!
Change is hard, and it takes time. Unfortunately, we don’t always get it right the first time. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years for us to make real changes. Especially if we are attempting to change something that has become a habit.
The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) by Prochaska and DiClemente is a method to understand how we change as people. This model is a different modality of change because it integrates many things that assist with the change process; such as, behavior, population, and environment. This model assumes change is a continuous cyclical process, and people change when they are ready.
There may be some limitations to this model, as it does not account for social economic status, and how that may impact an individual’s ability to change. There are no timelines associated with each stage or definites. The TTM does not appear to have a specific criteria as to how each stage is met, how long someone needs to remain in a stage, or how long a person will remain in their prospective stage. It is quite flowy if you ask me. Yes, that is a word, flowy.
The TTM suggest that people move in stages as they change. Chances are, this process will not be straightforward, there may be twists, turns and backsliding. Some can make immediate changes, (I haven’t quite mastered that) but don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t happen that way for you, and certainly don’t beat yourself up if it takes time to progress.
What Are The Stages Of Change?
There are five stages of change:
In the precontemplation stage, people aren’t ready to make any changes in the expected future (which is defined as six months in this model), because frankly, there are no thoughts that anything is wrong. Individuals in this stage generally have no idea how their current behaviors will impact them going forward, or maybe they have tried in the past to change and they weren’t successful. In the example above; that thirty something lady who’s hips don’t lie….
She keeps on eating, because hey, desserts are good! So are fried foods. She doesn’t think about the continued weight gain, or the impact that it may have on other aspects of her health. She has tried that gym life, and it wasn’t for her; hmph, plus sweating is gross.
While in the contemplation stage, a change is likely in the next six months. A person has an idea of the benefits of changing, but also are aware of the cons of changing as well. Due to knowing the positives and the negatives of changing, a person may become ambivalent about it. While in this stage, the person may continue the behavior, but knows that by doing so that it may cause problems in their lives going forward.
Regarding our thirty something, she recognizes that eating all of those sweets and fried foods will negatively impact her health, but she also knows that in making a change that she will have to change her diet, she may even have to go the gym and sweat! She may not be quite ready for the change.
In the next stage; preparation, change is generally made in the immediate future which is measured as one month in this model. Generally, you have already made some small changes within the prior year, which can lead to healthier behaviors.
The thirty-something may have purchased a gym membership, and set aside some days that she wants to go to the gym.
Noticeable changes occur during the prior six months in the action stage. The person has changed the negative behavior, and has created new, positive, and healthy behaviors in its place.
Ms. thirty-something lady has started going to the gym, and has decreased eating the fried foods and desserts, she has even lost some weight! Her friends and family have noticed too.
Finally, in the maintenance stage, specific changes are made for a minimum of six months. During this stage, an individual has less desire to go back to the negative behavior that they demonstrated previously.
Our thirty-something lady continued with her plan of going to gym, and because of the changes that she noticed, she has not reverted to her old ways.
Although, many researchers suggest that this model is more so for individuals that are addicted to a substance. However, I believe that this can be applied to various behaviors in our lives.
Where Are You In The Process?
What are your thoughts about the stages that were mentioned here? Do you believe that change is a process? Maybe, you think change is immediate. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!