The ‘Ready-Aim-Fire’ of Lasting Change
January 10, 2017
by Ken Jones
Ever wonder why achieving lasting change can be so difficult? One of the reasons, perhaps, is that change isn’t as simple as driving a car from one side of a bridge to the other.
In his book, “Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions,” internationally recognized expert on behavior change John C. Norcross, PhD addressed the challenges of lasting change. Norcross noted that, just as there are ‘stages’ of grief that have been identified by experts like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, decades of research into the dynamics of lasting change have revealed five stages or steps individuals need to understand and navigate in order to see lasting change:
- Precontemplation Stage — Individuals in the precontemplation stage are not anticipating or expecting (and perhaps, are not even desirous of) a change in their lives. Perhaps change is too overwhelming to contemplate. Or, they may not even see the need for change.
- Contemplation Stage — People in this stage have recognized a significant need in their lives for change, and are planning to make those changes within a six-month period of time.
- Preparation Stage — Those in the preparation stage seem ‘somewhat’ committed to seeing change take place in their lives; they spend some time in the contemplation stage, while they may also be taking some active steps toward change, such as joining a gym to help them succeed.
- Action Stage — People in the action stage are actually practicing new behaviors that will take them toward their ultimate goals.
- Maintenance Stage — In this ‘post-change’ stage, the new behaviors have been maintained for six months or more, and have become the ‘new normal.’
Thinking about your new year, and how you can see some lasting change in an area of your life? If so, one of the best ways to succeed in adopting new behaviors and achieving your goal is to determine which ‘stage’ your in right now. Are you in the ‘precontemplative stage?’ If so, what obstacles in your thought process will you need to overcome in order to move toward the ‘contemplative’ stage? And if you’re already at the contemplative stage, what preparations do you need to make in order to see progress, movement, and real change? Knowing and understanding the stages of change can make a huge difference in whether an individual succeeds or falls short of achieving lasting change.