Do you have a bad habit that you would like to change? Experts divide a
person’s readiness for change into six groups:
1. “I don’t want to change” (Precontemplation)
2. “I might consider changing” (Contemplation)
3. “I’m planning on how to change” (Preparation)
4. “I’ve changed” (Making the break)
5. “I don’t want to go back to the way I was ” (Maintenance)
6. “I’m thoroughly changed” (Transformation)
Understanding one’s readiness greatly increases the chance for success
and each stage requires a different approach.
In stage 1, before one is really ready to change you might ask
yourself, “If I were to stop, why would I? Common answers include “To
save money” or “To be a better influence on my kids”. Such “what if”
questions plant the seeds for future change.
In Stage 2, one is ready to think about change. Collecting all the facts is
helpful at this stage. Comparing the gap between one’s principles and
one’s actions can generate motivation.
In stage 3, when planning one’s strategy for change it is helpful to be
inspired by others’ who have kicked your habit. Learning from your
own previous attempts is also key. Let your friends know your plans
and elicit help along the way. Create a rallying cry. For instance “This
Christmas I will once again be a size 10!”
When you are actually ready to start a change, make sure you are
prepared. Spur of the moment action plans are unlikely to succeed. Set
the stage for success by developing and sticking to your comprehensive
Stage 5, the maintenance stage, requires vigilance. Overconfidence is
the biggest cause of slipping up. For example, learn to celebrate in new
ways - even if it means avoiding your previous drinking buddies. Like a
boy scout, be prepared. If you slip, get right back on your plan. Don’t get
derailed for good.
Tackling an addiction can be the most difficult obstacle one ever faces -
but freedom when one succeeds is ever so sweet.