Six stages of change
How do we make changes in our lives? What is the process of change? Think about the last time you made a change, any change at all, it could be the simplest thing like tidying the house or the biggest thing you’ve ever done like buying a house.What was the process for the change? Think about it for a few minutes.
The process of change
When my family first moved to a new house a few years ago it was a huge decision. The first part of the process of buying a house was noticing that a change might need to occur. You
can’t decide to change something unless you think a change needs to occur, no matter what the reasons are. So you are constantly examining your life, consciously and unconsciously. We kept on saying that there wasn’t enough room for the four of us in the house anymore this led to us passively looking for somewhere else to stay.
The next stage is deciding that a change needs to occur. in the example above where we needed to move house we went from passively looking for house to actively looking for a new housing. we decided we needed the change.
The next stage is deciding what to change to. This is where a lot of people might fall down and a lot of people get stuck in a rut for this very reason. You know you want to change your job but you don’t know what you want to do or how to do it.
For those of you who get past the second stage the next stage is to actually believe you can make the change. you can see yourself making the change and you can see yourself with the new house, the new job, being a non smoker, being thin you can picture it in your mind.
Again this is another major stumbling block. We all hold beliefs in our heads about everything in our lives and often those beliefs can often conflict with each other, in psychological terms this is called cognitive dissonance.
An example of this is the person who smokes, they know it’s bad for their health but they continue to smoke. The reason people still smoke is because they have not given themselves enough good reasons to stop smoking and given themselves more good reasons to keep smoking, it’s that simple.
Before I gave up smoking last year ,my reasons for smoking far outweighed my reasons for not smoking. I enjoyed smoking (yes I did! for those of you who are saying ‘you thought you enjoyed it’, I did really enjoy it), I felt it relaxed me and it did, it gave me time to myself, it was a way to get a break etc etc. I knew of all the health warnings but the thing that tipped it for me was power over my own mind. I kept saying I could give up if i wanted to but I didn’t want to.
Then I asked could I really give up. so I tried and I couldn’t. Then I thought I am in control here I can do anything I want with my body. So there was a battle of wills in my head. I digress a little, but you get my point.
Okay you’ve got past the dissonance stage what now. You have to take action. You have to take a step toward your desired outcome. again you have to picture what your outcome is going to be. Takes small steps toward it. If you want to lose weight you might take the first step to giving up sweets. You don’t give up all the crap at the same time ‘ small steps Ellie, small steps…’ give up the sweets then once you’ve mastered that, give up the cake, once you’ve mastered that give up the burgers etc. All the time you picture in your head what you want your outcome to be.
The next step of the process is: Continuation. You go through the cycle of stages of 4-5 until you reach your desired outcome. When you reach your desired outcome you have momentum. You have a new belief that you can change. your new belief spurs you on to change other aspects of your life that you may want to change and you will have a stronger belief that you can do it.
The stages of change
1. Examining – Before you can make a change you need to recognise the need for change. This happens on a conscious and unconscious level.
2. Deciding – Once you have recognised the need to change you decided to actively make a change.
3. Desired outcome – You have to know what your desired outcome is.
4. Belief – When you have decided to change you have to believe that you can do it and get past conflicting beliefs in your head.
5. Action – You have to take action towards your desired outcome, I recommend small steps, but do anything to take action.
6. Continuation – You repeat stages 4-5 until you reach your desired outcome.
This process of change occurs in every single aspect of our lives from changing a job to washing your hands after going to the toilet. we can use this model to show us exactly where in our lives we are falling down. My biggest let down was at stages 3 and 4, i knew i had to change some aspect of my life it was knowing what I wanted and the belief that i could do it that let me down. Concentrating on these two stages would often lead me to get over them.
For example I knew I wanted to stop working at BT and after examining my life I knew I wanted to work with people to be able to make a difference in their lives but I didn’t really have the belief that I could achieve this. Knowing I was lacking in belief I looked at myself and asked myself what i was good at, I was good at actively listening,Ii was good at empathizing, I had patience in abundance, all the things you need to work with people in order to help them help themselves change their lives.
When you know which part of the process you are stuck on you can work on it until you get past it.
Exercise to do
Try this exercise just now;
Write down something you want to change in your life.
Find out where you are on the process of change model above.
Work on where you are stuck in the model.
Does it make a difference, let me