Journeying through the 5 Stages of Change

Just like the seasons in nature, life goes through constant shifts. Change is inevitable. It can feel rocky at first when you experience periods of uncertainty. But, when you develop strategies to manage these periods, you can navigate change with grace. 

The Stages of Change Model, developed by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente in 1970, provides a guide through the seasons of life in their book, The Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration

The five stages of change include pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance, according to Psych Central.These are the steps you need to get through to make transitions easier.

Pre-contemplation
During the first stage of change, you may experience a lack of awareness or denial. You may not even realize that you need to make serious life changes. You repeat old habits, even when they negatively impact you or others. 

Those closest to you can often pick up on the need for change at this point. You may turn down help or feel insulted if an outsider suggests a need to make changes. 

You may also pass the blame onto external influences. For example, if you have been advised to quit smoking, you could blame stress for their inability to change. You  may even consider smoking a coping mechanism to manage their emotions when under pressure. 

Contemplation
During the second stage of change, people become conscious that a problem exists, according to Cecelia Health, and they may even be thinking on how to overcome it but they are ambivalent on how to do so.

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To enact change, ask yourself, “Do I need to make changes in my life?” Then follow this up by asking, “Why do I need to make these changes?” This will create an intention as to why you are setting out to change. It will also support you with encouragement along the way in case you ever feel like giving up. 

Preparation
This stage is where you begin to gather the information that is necessary for you to change. A study from Loma Linda University students shows that during the preparation stage, you begin to establish stepping stones towards change. 

You begin to dive deep into the knowledge behind making life-changing choices and how these can benefit you. That means devoting the time to research what needs to be done to start thriving and living a better life. Identify what you need to do each step of the way. This process will guide you towards cultivating change

You can help promote change by saying positive affirmations in the preparation stage. This can do wonders for motivating you to take control of your life.

Action
People often write down their goals to clarify what they need to do to make changes, but they often fail because they never take the actions needed to get there. Getting clarity on what you need to do to change can be the easy part, according to Science Direct,

Once you set goals for change, make sure to commit. Take action, stresses Psych Central and work a little toward your goals each day. Actually putting these changes in place and committing to them each day could ensure that you will successively navigate change and come out successful on the other end.

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Maintenance
According to the verywellmind, out of all the stages, the maintenance stage can be the trickiest. People often give up hope or fall off track when working towards their goals. That’s okay! This is natural. Just don’t beat yourself up too much about it. 

Change occurs gradually. It’s natural for relapses and setbacks along your journey. Everyone faces temptations from time to time. Triggers could entice you to go back to that old habit you worked so hard to change. Keep going! Just pick yourself back up and get back on track. You got this!

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