Think of a time you’ve made a change in your life.  Can you describe the process you went through? I bet even if the change surprised those around you, it was something you’d thought about for quite some time. How did you move from thinking to action?

Your process may have looked much like what Prochaska and his colleagues (2006) have identified as the 6 stages of change. Take a look and see if you can use these stages to describe a change you’ve made in your life.

Stage What it’s like
Precontemplation Resisting change; not aware of need for change; expecting others to change; possibly demoralized
Contemplation See there is something to change, want to make a change, think about it a lot; have vague plans to do something about it in 6 months or so.
Preparation Ready to act within the next month; publically announcing intention; may still have mixed feelings about it
Action Making the change in ways that are visible to others.
Maintenance Continuing with the new behaviors, strengthening commitment to the change. Improving through learning and experiencing, preventing relapse to earlier stages.
Termination Gaining complete confidence in the ability to make the change permanent. Doing so no longer involves effort

Adapted from Prochaska, J.O, Norcross, J.C. & Diclemente, C.C. (2006). Changing for good. New York: Harper, p 38-46.

We don’t necessarily go from stage one to stage six in a straight line. We can spiral back from action or maintenance to earlier stages several times before getting to the termination stage. In fact, some people don’t think there is a termination stage, and that it’s always possible to go back to an earlier stage.

Here are some questions to think about:

  1. Do Prochaska’s stages describe how you have made a change in the past?
  2. If so, what do you think helped you move from one stage to the next?
  3. Did you do any spiraling back to earlier stages?
  4. Is there a change you would like to make now?
  5. What stage do you think you are in?
  6. What would help you move forward?