Understanding how we make behavioral changes can help us achieve our goals and change our habits more mindfully.
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Issue #37

Stages of Change

(psst: enable images to see this pic!)

Keeping with our new year, new resolutions theme this month, I thought this would be a good time to talk about how and why people change. I've mentioned I see a therapist (which I highly recommend to anyone considering this!), and recently we talked about the changes I've made in my life over the last year. Through this I learned of the stages of change model, and it's such an insightful framework to view our habits, resolutions, and goals within.

How Change Happens

The Stages of Change focus on the decision-making of individuals making an intentional change in their lives. Understanding these stages can help you understand your own readiness to change, as well as the method you might need to follow in order to change (are you motivated to achieve a goal on your own? do you need support, or a coach? would it help to join a like-minded group of people making a similar change?).

It also serves as a reminder that change is a constant process. After you identify and begin working toward a goal, you might feel you've slipped up or failed after a day of "backwards" progress—but in reality, that's just part of the cycle. Like identifying how to get to your mountains, seeking change is already progress towards change—even if it doesn't always feel that way!

More Reading

The 6 Stages
The 6 stages of change are precontemplation (no intention to change in the foreseeable future), contemplation (planning on changing sometime in the future), preparation (planning on changing very soon and making small steps to support this), action (actually changing behavior and habits), maintenance (sustaining change for some time), and termination (no desire to undo behavioral change—this stage is rarely reached!). This article examines in more real-life examples how these stages might manifest in your life.

Change Management and the Stages
If you're attempting to enact change in your workplace, this article reviews the stages of change in the context of change management. Since changing an organization means both workplace and individual change must take place, this is a great look at the practical application of the stages of change on totally different levels. While change may be feared or resisted against, this overview will help you understand why that is—and how to overcome it.

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