Are You Ready for Change?

HydrangeasThe most useful and informative research on change was done by a number of researchers led by James Porchaska at the University of Rhode Island. They found  that successful change has specific “stages”. It does not matter what a person is changing (drinking, smoking, relationships, jobs, EATING), the stages are the same. Each stage has a number of tasks that the changer must accomplish before going to the next stage. It is most important to know what stage you are in and then move only to the very next stage. No jumping ahead.  Jumping leads to falling … back to a previous stage.

The 5 Stages of Change Tasks for each Stage
1)  Precontemplation

  • no intention of changing and may be a denial that there is a problem.
  • If you say things like, “I gain weight just looking at food” or you wish you had control but see it as impossible.
  • raise your “consciousness” or awareness by reading about the results of staying where you are
  • identify the defenses you are using
  • become aware of the impact of changing on those around you
  • find a helping relationship
  • Don’t take action to change yet
2)  Contemplation

  • when you acknowledge a problem, see some of its causes, look at its function, and think seriously about solving it. 
  • This is the stage of ambivalence. 
  • Are you waiting for the perfect moment or motivation to start?  If so, You are probably in the Contemplation Stage.
  • increase your emotional motivation
  • become aware by asking the right questions, define your true goals, collect data, learn what your triggers are for problem behavior
  • do a self evaluation, including what changing your behavior will do for you, for others close to you
  • be specific about what you want to change
  • Don’t take action to change yet
3)  Preparation

  • has commitment to action without completely resolving the ambivalence you have for change. 
  • you gather your resources (i.e. enlist friends and support, books, tools, programs).  
  • gather resources
  • look around for ways society is attempting to help
  • believe in your ability to change
  • accept others support
  • have a hopeful vision of the future
4)  Action

  • you are actively in your program of change, using your tools, supports. 
  • If you are using your resources on a regular basis, you are in the Action Stage.
  • replace behavior with healthier alternative
  • reward yourself for steps you are taking
  • avoid situations, cues that reminded you of old behavior
5)  Maintenance

  • you are preventing relapse while consolidating the gains that you have made.
  • If you are looking at all the changes you have made, identifying possible reminders of old behaviors and thinking through ways to address them when they arise, you are in the Maintenance Stage.
  • stay aware
  • consider the future and reminders of old behaviors or vulnerable times
  • give yourself a booster every so often (i.e. reread books or material that were important in your action phase)

Above information from Changing For Good  by James D Porchaska, PhD, John Norcross, PhD and Carlo DiClemente, PhD

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