Stages Of Change

Let’s get academic for a few minutes.  Get a cocktail, have a seat and stay with me.  It won’t hurt too much, I promise.  Let’s talk about the transtheoretical model.  The transtheoretical model (TTM for short) is a way of looking at a person’s readiness to change a behavior. In the TTM, change is a process, not a single event, and the process of change involves progress through a series of stages, called the Stages of Change.  So far, so good, right?

There are six Stages of Change.  They have fancy names, but, are simple concepts.

  • Precontemplation (a.k.a. I’m Just Not Ready) – In this stage, a person is not intending to make a change in the foreseeable future.  A person in this stage typically underestimates the pros of changing, overestimates the cons and is often not aware of of their under and over estimates.
  • Contemplation (a.k.a. I’m Getting Ready) – In this stage, a person is beginning to recognize that he wants to change his behavior and he starts to look at the pros and cons of continuing his current actions.  A person in this stage learns about the kind of person they could be if they changed their behavior and typically learns from people who demonstrate the new behavior.
  • Preparation (a.k.a. I’m Ready) – In this stage, a person plans to take action in the immediate future and may begin taking small steps toward changing behavior.  The number one concern of a person in this stage is: when he acts, will he fail?  He learns that the better prepared he is, the more likely he is to keep progressing.
  • Action (a.k.a. Here I Go!) – In this stage, a person has made specific modifications in modifying behavior or in acquiring new behaviors.  A person in this stage progresses by being taught techniques for keeping up his commitment to change.
  • Maintenance (a.k.a. Let’s Keep It Going) – In this stage, a person has been able to sustain the new behavior for at least six months and is working to not revert to the old behavior.
  • Termination (a.k.a. I’m Never Going Back) – In this stage, a person has zero temptation to return to their previous behavior.

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The TTM is based on observations of how people went about modifying problem behaviors such as smoking, overeating and problem drinking.  So, the reason we’re getting all academic is because, for me, our current lifestyle is a problem behavior.  We spend too much time being consumed by work.  We spend too much on stuff that clutters our life.  We don’t spend nearly enough time really living.  Beginning this blog and tracking our dreams and progress towards our dreams has really got me thinking about this whole stages of change thing and my commitment to making the change.  I’m pretty sure I’m living mostly in the preparation stage, at least the majority of the time.  The fear of the unknown, fear of being uncomfortable and anxiety associated with making such a huge life change from such a stable environment bounces me back to precontemplation and contemplation quite frequently, but, I try to work through that as quickly as possible.  Seems to be working okay so far, I’d say!

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