The 6 stages of change

Though change is always available to us, the path isn’t always a smooth one. Understanding the stages of change and identifying whereabouts we are within them, can help us progress towards our ambitions. 

Change can feel overwhelming, it’s natural for us to be fearful of the unknown. The 6 stages of change can help us recognise resistance and see what’s holding us back. 

  1. Precontemplation 

Not even thinking about changing behaviour. They don’t see any problem with their choices and think critics exaggerate. Reasons people are in this stage: 

  • Reluctance. Impact of issues isn’t apparent, through lack of knowledge or not considering change. 
  • Rebellion. Resistant to being told what to do by anyone. 
  • Resigned. Overwhelmed and have given up hope of conquering their issues, perhaps after numerous attempts. 
  • Rationalising. They have all the answers as to why they don’t need to change. 
  1. Contemplation 

At this stage, people are open to the view that they have a problem. They’ll ponder change but not give it priority. They may weigh up the pros and cons of changing and remaining the same. 

  1. Preparation/Determination 

Deciding to make changes is the main characteristic of this stage. Uncertainty of change is no longer a barrier to doing something. Making a plan of action will follow. For it to succeed this needs to be realistic 

  1. Action 

This is where the plan is put into action. The changes go live. People can make public declarations of their intentions, causing a cascade of support and external accountability.  

  1. Maintenance 

When a person can maintain the changes over a sustained period, they’ve reached this stage. To get to this point, there’s been consistent and intentional changes in action and attitude. Progress continues and lapses to old behaviours become less and less frequent.  

  1. Relapse or Termination 

Old habits die hard, they’re deeply ingrained so the threat of a relapse is often present to some degree. It can be a slippery slope to relapse, people can be inclined to ‘test’ themselves or try something ‘just to see’ and before they know it, they’ve taken a few steps back on their journey. Often relapses can galvanise a person’s resolve and make them more determined to maintain their changes.  

Termination is the absolute goal in the process of change, it means the temptation/threat no longer has a hold on the person and they can proceed on their journey without the fear of relapse.  

No matter the nagging voices of doubt, change is always possible. It’s never too late. By making positive changes to your lifestyle, you’ll be improving your health, wellbeing, longevity and vitality.  

Are you a Nottingham City resident ready to change your health habits? Join our free Health Coaching programme for tailored support and expert guidance. Sign up today and start your journey to a healthier lifestyle!