I've been reading the book "Changing For Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward" (Authors James O. Prochaska, PH.D., John C. Norcross, PH.D., and Carlo C. Diclemente, PH.D.). I first heard about it from a colleague who said it would be a good book for me to read to better understand how and why people change. As a coach, that's one of the BIG things I work on with my clients…CHANGE; whether it's changing their habits for greater success, changing their marketing for a clearer message and more business, or changing personally for growth and greater fulfillment.
I hope to enlighten you, as my reading has done for me, and encourage you to not give up too early on your changes. Below I've summarized the six well-defined stages of change as outlined by the authors:
In this stage there is generally no recognition of the problem or intention to change. On the outside, others may see the problem very clearly, but the precontemplator cannot. Often precontemplators don't want to change but rather desire those around them to change instead.
Contemplation - In this stage the problem is recognized, but the contemplator isn't quite ready to move into action.
When in this stage, a person acknowledges they have a problem and begin to think seriously about changing it. They may even have plans for taking action within the next six months, but no actual commitment to do so. When transition begins to occur from this stage of change to the next, a person begins focusing more on the solution vs. the problem and thinking more about the future instead of dwelling on the past.
Preparation - Plans for action are being put in place and being made public.
The person in the preparation phase may appear to be ready for action, but they may still need to convince themselves that taking action is what's best for them. They are often already beginning to make small behavioral changes. Their awareness of the problem is high and they are anticipating the changes and action to come.
Action - Now habits are modified and fears confronted! This stage is the only time a person makes progress for overcoming their problem.
During the action phase of change, "…a person makes the move for which they've been preparing." Action is visible to those around them. Encouragement and support are critical at this stage. This is the busiest stage and takes a great deal of commitment of time and energy. However, this stage does NOT complete the changes.
Maintenance - For change to be permanent, previous gains attained must be combined and lapses or relapses prevented.