Pattern to Change

The challenge of New Years resolutions is usually not defining a resolution, but following through with behavior change!

Motivation (posted October 19th) explored factors impacting behavior change; attitudes and norms, perceived wishes of others, belief that change is positive, and belief that the action taken will result in the desired change. The Stages of Change theory created by researcher James Prochaska is another enlightening concept outlining five stages people go through as they move toward making a positive change.

1-Pre-contemplation

·         not intending to, or ready to change,

·         may not understand advantages of making the change, or   may be resistant to change,

·         may view the pros of the negative behavior as greater than the cons.

2-Contemplation

·         some knowledge of the consequences or advantages of the change,

·         pros and cons of change are judged about equal,

·         intending to or thinking about change

3-Preparation

·         have determined the pros outweigh the cons,

·         intend to make a change,

·         have a plan of action for change within six months.

4-Action

·         taking action on a regular basis (i.e. attending a class, eating nutritiously),

·         tend to feel empowered and in control of life,

5-Maintenance

·         sustaining the change for at least six months (i.e, walked daily, quit smoking, etc.),

·         behavior change becomes part of the person’s lifestyle.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that “at any given time, fewer than 20% of people with a less than ideal behavior are prepared to change”, i.e. ready to take action. Consider physical activity as an example (resolution to exercise).With the vast majority of people residing in pre-contemplation and contemplation stages it is unfortunate that the "build it and they will come" approach of offering lots of classes (aerobics, yoga, tai chi, etc.) appeals almost exclusively to only the 20% who are ready to take action by attending a class. Virtually no programs exist to help people move forward from contemplation into preparation, action and maintenance.


If you’re having trouble making a desired change consider where you are in the stages of change.  Next time I’ll talk about steps you can take to move from contemplation (thinking about it) to preparation (gather information about what’s available) and action (join a class, or take a 10 minute walk).

  Happy New Year!

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