Spring is here! Time for re-birth, re-growth, and re-booting our New Year’s resolution to get moving and shape up (you know the one that quickly fell by the wayside). If you’re like about 80% of us trying to change behavior it happens in fits and starts. But, have heart and don’t give up too soon!  It might help to understand the well documented five step pattern to change outlined by James Prochaska:

Pre-contemplation:  Not intending to or ready to change

Contemplation: Thinking about it, but pros and cons of change judged about equal.

Preparation: Intending to change and have a plan of action for change within six months

Action: Taking action on a regular basis

Maintenance: Sustaining the change for at least 6  months; becomes part of the person’s lifestyle.

Unfortunately, on average, fewer than 20% of people trying to change a behavior make it to the action stage at any one time.  

Failed attempts at changing a specific behavior, mean you’re likely bouncing between stages. Try pin pointing which stage of behavior change you get stuck in most often, and why.  

 Stages and Triggers

Are you in Pre-contemplation? Think, Uncle Phil who claims smoking “gets a bad rap because his grandpa smoked, and lived to be 90”. With no desire to change, often only an “index event” that shakes the very foundation of his beliefs, can motivate change: something like a sudden hospitalization, or stark realization that although he’s always identified with being a former athlete, he’s having difficulty catching his breath after a short flight of stairs.

Contemplation? If you made a resolution (even if you didn’t follow thru) then you’re at least in the contemplation stage. It’s a start!! A Contemplator might say, “I probably should get more exercise but I’m doing alright so far without it, right?” Judging the pros and cons pretty equal makes it hard to move into action.  Ultimately you have to really believe this change will be positive, so dig a little to see what belief/idea may be blocking your desired change.

Preparation? Many of us are great preparers!  Have you bought an exercise machine or DVD lately? Did it change your behavior; change your life?  Bouncing from preparation into bursts of action, and back -sometimes all the way back to contemplation- is common. Make it as easy as possible to stay “in action” by putting your exercise gear in the car if you know going home from work before a class is usually a deal breaker.

Achieving a goal

Ultimately, there’s no special book or guru with more power or insight than you have to make lasting change in your life.  Positive change comes directly from your own personal beliefs about whether change will result in a net positive or negative in your life.


I just recently returned from North Hill Senior Living in Needham, Massachusetts (near Boston), and found they really walk the talk of being a “wellness community”.  They’ve been around since the 80’s and just recently went through a major remodel and re-boot around their PurposeFULL Living wellness philosophy.  It was terrific to see a community fully oriented around wellness, and leading the charge is their fearless leader, Kevin, who was willing to “swim upstream” for awhile because he believed in the vision and was committed to the transformation. And Paul, the marketing director does a great job of helping people understand North Hill and what it means to join a community of PurposeFULL living. 

North Hill is a beautiful community but physical environments are easy compared to creating an emotional environment of well-being and purpose – that’s where North Hill really shines.  Everyone I met, staff and residents alike demonstrated pride in the community. The fitness center, pool, wood-shop, creative arts center, etc.  are all impressive, but more impressive was seeing that staff and residents as well as their families can enjoy the pool together. And, while most fitness centers, arts centers, etc. are only accessible during designated hours, at North Hill they are open for whenever the mood strikes you!  Seems like a little thing but I assure you it isn’t.   I have long advocated that senior living leadership view each and every policy and procedure thru a viewfinder of resilience and community-  do they support or diminish the building blocks of resident and staff resilience?  Do they build or subvert feelings of connection and community? 

To truly build and sustain “community”, everyone must be treated with the same levels of dignity and respect – not just in words but in actions.  North Hill demonstrates the possibilities when everything comes together to create a community of mutual social support. Kudos North Hill!!