I have been enjoying the slower pace of summer by reading some interesting books, relevant to my work. One of the books, Changing to Thrive by James and Janice Prochaska, explains the different stages people go through when making important behavioural changes in their lives.
I first studied the Prochaska model of change during my master studies some 20 years ago. So much has changed in the world since then, yet their theory of change is still very relevant.
We know that change is typically uncomfortable and hard. It costs us time and effort—and the risk of failure often holds us back. According to the Prochaska model, in order to begin a new action (e.g. a new job, start or end a relationship, quit smoking, etc.) we go through these stages:
1) Pre-contemplation: At this point, we know that something must be done, but we don’t know what to do and we still think of it as something to do later, in the future.
2) Contemplation and Preparation: We begin to prepare for action, but are still stuck in our need for certainty. We may doubt ourselves and may not act. We begin to build the support network we need to move into action.
3) Action: We finally take the steps needed and begin to move forward. We learn and adapt as we stumble on our way to making progress.
There is a clear process of change. It requires courage, vulnerability and adaptation. It also takes time.
So what are the tools that can be used to help us take that step and create a lasting change? There are many different tools for each stage, but for today I will focus on the importance of knowing why you want to change.
It might start with the general idea that change will be beneficial, but it really comes down to why it is important to you. Your answer can be completely subjective. It may not be relevant to others, but it only has to make sense to you.
What behaviour or change are you contemplating? Are you ready to take action but something keeps stopping you? Can you articulate why this change is important to you?
If you are struggling to answer these questions, contact me. Together, we can move from contemplation to action.