The 6 Steps of Change

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Change is difficult. Taking action and making your new habit stick is a long process and takes determination, will and courage.
Psychologists have identified 6 steps of change that everyone goes through when making a change.
It isn’t a straight line though; people will go up and down through the steps as they try and change.

Often it takes 5-6 attempts to make change stick. Smoking is an easy example so I will be using it to illustrate the steps.

1. Pre contemplation
At this point the person doesn’t see the problem with smoking, they aren’t aware of the consequences of their actions and/or don’t think them bad enough to care.

Typically people will think about how others have lived long while smoking and cancer as a result to smoking isn’t shown very much on the news so they don’t see much of the consequences.

2. Contemplation
During the contemplation period people have realized that they maybe should make a change and are considering it. They know smoking has negative effects but they still feel that the perceived benefits of change are smaller than the effort it will require to change.

Today not many people are in the pre-contemplation stage when it comes to smoking, because of all the information about smoking most people are in the contemplation stage. They know it is a problem, but not one large enough to care about.

If you want to get someone to stop smoking you need to show them how much the benefits will out way the effort.

3. Preparation
The person has decided to make a change, they often start making preliminary plans and might even be taking preliminary steps towards change.

They might start cutting down on their smoking trying and use less and less cigarettes each day. When people are in this stage they are basically evaluating their options and deciding how they are going to change.

4. Action
The first attempt at change often fails and people fall back into the contemplation or preparation stage, but during the action stage they are trying. They have quit smoking and moved into the maintenance stage.

5. Maintenance
When the person is trying to quit, they don’t smoke anymore and if they can hold out for 3-6 months the change will most likely be permanent.
Usually it takes about 5-6 attempts before it sticks but not always, some people make change happen the very first time through.

What you want to do is stay away from situations in which the bad habit e.g. smoking is promoted. Like visiting the smoking corner at work or going on social events where a lot of people smoke and instead trying to choose situations where people don’t smoke to spend time with them.

6. Change
After completing 6 months of maintenance most of the cravings have gone away, you will now be able to say no if someone asks you to smoke with them, change has happened and you are now a strong person without the need to smoke.

Conclusion
Change can be very difficult but now that you know of the 6 steps you will be able to use them to your benefit. You know what is happening in your mind while you change and you will be able to force change on yourself.

It can be used to start exercising, to stop smoking, drinking, using drugs or to develop other habits.
Whenever you are thinking about making a change, know that you are in one of the steps above and take the appropriate actions to make it easier for you to change and sustain the change.

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