Looking for a Change?
Winter is receding and along with the cold temperatures and wintery mix (we don’t really get snow showers here in Northern Virginia).
The days are growing longer (it’s nice being greeted by the sun when I walk outside my office at end of business) and warmer. One of the other tell-tale signs that the season has changed is the increase of people at my gym. Along with the warm weather, people start thinking about vacations and long weekends, especially at the beach, so people head to the gym to start toning up. In short, everyone's looking for a change.
Maybe you have thought about doing this as well. So how motivated are you to do this? Several years ago, a group of psychology researchers decided to look at this very question: how does a person go about changing behavior? What invokes people to start looking for a change? The stage-based model they came up with after conducting their research was the Transtheoretical Stages of Change Model. This model has been used extensively for smoking cessation programs, as well as alcohol abuse treatment.
The model has five distinct stages that a person may experience when considering their behavior, however, not everyone will quickly progress from one stage to another, relapse is always a potential and one may progress from one particular stage to another very quickly and suddenly slow at the next stage. After all, we’re talking about human behavior here, not computer programs. I encourage you to read about each distinct stage. So rather than regurgitating what you can read on Wikipedia or some scholarly journal, I have taken each stage and given common examples of people’s different responses when in these stages (based on my clinical experience), so here goes:
Precontemplation– “Problem? What problem?! What are you talking about, dude?!”
Contemplation – “Okay, there’s some sort of issue going on. But I’m not sure we agree on what it is. And even if we do, I’m not even sure I want to do anything about it!”
Preparation – “Alright…there’s a problem. We can finally agree on what it is, and I’ll concede that it probably has something to do with me. I’m thinking I’m ready to do something about it. I just need to figure out what that is.”
Action – “Okay, I’ve worked super hard to figure out this thing. There’s a problem. I contribute to it, or at least I can see my part. We’ve mapped out what to do about it. Here goes nothing!!!”
Maintenance – “This change thing is hard. But I’m willing to keep working at it. This needs to keep going, I like it”
Do YOU see yourself in any of these stages? What are your thoughts about this theoretical model? Are you actively looking for a change?
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