How to Make a Change (The Transtheoretical Model)
Change is inevitable
An old slogan for my business was, “Change is inevitable. Transformation is optional. Choose wisely.”
I used this because, yes, change is inevitable, but also because we can either resist it, and suffer the consequences, or we can allow it to transform us more and more into the person we want to be with every opportunity change brings.
If we’re going to be forced to change, then understanding how it works, seems like a good idea.
I remember teaching the Transtheoretical model years ago when I was doing some training for a former employer. The Transtheoretical Model, aka The Stages of Change, is one interpretation to how change occurs in our lives. Although there are many different takes on the different stages, five stages seem to occur in every explanation.
Stages of Change
The five agreed upon Stages of Change include:
1. Precontemplation – starting to have an awareness that something needs to change.
2. Contemplation – beginning to really think about what life might look like if a change is made, but resistant because, well, change can be hard.
3. Preparation – actually trying out the change, testing strategies, fortitude, mindset, but not yet actually making a change – although one is on the horizon in the next six months.
4. Action – making THE change and having sustained it for at least 30 days. This one is interesting because technically all of the stages of change include some form of action, but social scientists seem to agree on the 30 days of action being the “Action” stage.
5. Maintenance- one continues the action stage into an ongoing pattern or habit of transformation.
Limitations of the Stages of Change
Like all theories, the Transtheoretical Model has its limitations. The most glaring is that we are constantly changing although mostly subconsciously because we’re not really thinking about it. Another is that the process of change isn’t quite so linear and the timeframes for the stages can be quite arbitrary.
That being said, it’s interesting to look at a change through this lens. If you’re starting to recognize a bad habit (smoking, worrying, poor eating or drinking habits, lack of daily movement, whatever), it’s interesting to hold the possibility of change up to this model.
Processing through the Stages of Change
What would change look like for you in the precontemplation stage? Would you recognize it? How would you know if it’s something that needs to change or not?
What about during the contemplation stage? Do you like a good “pros and cons” list? Or do you like to weigh the good habits against the bad?
What does action really look like for you? Is 30 days enough for you to say that you are taking positive action?
Or maintenance, how do you prevent yourself from going backwards and returning to the former misaligned habit?
You don’t have to have this all figured out, because I can help you to take on change with courage and presence of mind.
See, if you’re really interested in changing something (a job, your relationship status, your mindset, the options are limitless), and yet you don’t know how you’ll go about it, or how you’ll continue, or how you’ll overcome the challenges along the way, that’s where I come in.
I’m happy to help you work through your change and turn it from a begrudgingly difficult task to an opportunity for transformation. If you’re interested in getting help for any kind of transformation, book your free Discovery Call today.