Making a lasting behavior change involves a significant commitment of time, effort, and emotion. Dr . Prochaska identified 6 stages of change:
People in Precontemplation do not have an intention to change. Typically, they do not see a need to change or they do not feel the behavior is a problem. People in this stage are often described as being “in denial”.
In the Contemplation stage, people recognize that they have a problem, but they are rather ambivalent about changing. This stage often involves weighing the pros and cons of the problem as well as possible solutions. People can stay in the contemplation stage for months or years.
Preparation stage is composed of people who are ready to change and have begun to make some small changes. It involves collecting information about your behavior and getting ready to take action.
The Action stage is when people are taking direct action to reach a goal. Reinforcement and support are extremely important in helping maintain positive steps towards change.
Maintenance involves successfully avoiding former behaviors and keeping up the newly established behaviors.
Last, with any behavior change, relapse is possible. The key to success to to not let these setbacks undermine your self confidence. Identify what triggered the relapse as well as what you can do to avoid problematic triggers in the future.
Identifying the stage of change you are in can help you determine how to best take action. People rarely move through stages of change in a straight line. Most of us can relate to creating a New Year’s resolution or starting a project and never finishing it. Creating and sustaining behavior changes are hard work. A qualified mental health professional can assist you on your journey to overcome problematic behaviors.