Change takes work. Progress without a plan is nearly impossible. It is crazy to sign up for a marathon and never make a plan to train for it, and then feel shocked when we run poorly or don't complete it. Yet it is often exactly what we do in our lives when it comes to our own physical, mental, social, spiritual growth and wellbeing.
Changing for Good - Stages of change outlined by James Prochaska, John Norcross, Carlo Diclemente
PRECONTEMPLATION - The first step of change - Precontemplators, place responsibility for their problems on factors such as genetic makeup, addiction, family, society, or ‘destiny,’ all of which they see as being out of their control.
Obstacles - Denial, minimization, rationalization, intellectualization, projection, displacement, internalization.
Action - Becoming aware of defenses, checking our defenses, raising consciousness-through information on issue and stories of other’s successful change, relationships move from enabling to helping, affiliate with other, reach out for help, give help to others.
CONTEMPLATION - The second step of change - Awareness is developed in this stage. It is important to contemplate as preparation for action and realize that change may also have negative consequences-a drinker may have to change social group.
Obstacles -Search for absolute certainty, waiting for the perfect moment, wishful thinking, premature action.
Action - Generate emotional arousal to spur action and firm up arousal, use your imagination, ask the right questions, define your own goals, collect the right data, learn what contributes to the problem behavior, think before you act, create a new self-image, make a decision.
PREPARATION - The third step of change - Takes you from the decision you make in the contemplation stage to the specific steps you take to solve the problem during the action stage. A rehearsal for action, increasing the pros versus cons in the decisional analysis tips the balance from preparation to action.
Obstacles - Not really understanding what change will require: efforts and give ups, building a weak case for the change.
Action - Commitment of necessary energy and priority to change, turn away from old behavior, make tough choices, take small steps, set a date, announce intent, create a detailed action plan.
ACTION - The fourth step of change - Change is in process
Obstacles - Taking preparation lightly, cheap change not real change. Myth of the magic bullet; change is real work. Return or involvement in unsupportive environments. Not structuring the environment to allow necessary focus on action efforts.
Action - Countering: substituting healthy responses for problem behaviors, active diversion, exercise, relaxation.
Avoid unsupportive environments, cues to old problem behavior.
Rewards: contracting, progressive rewards---change doesn’t’ happen all at once.
MAINTENANCE- The fifth step of change - Change made and maintained.
Obstacles -Social pressures: return to pre-change social group. Internal challenges: overconfidence; exposure to daily temptation, self- blame. Special situations: intense temptation.
Action - Enjoy your accomplishments, control your environment, create a new lifestyle, check your thinking— challenge negative thinking.
a. Continue to reach out for support—maintenance can be challenging.
b. Work with others on practicing coping behaviors.
c. Reach out and help others.
d. Patience and persistence will out.
Journal questions -Steps towards realizing your goal.
Body - Where I am now? Where I would like to be? One step I can take to move forwards on the path.
Mind - Where I am now? Where I would like to be? One step I can take to move forwards on the path.
Social - Where I am now? Where I would like to be? One step I can take to move forwards on the path.
Spiritual Where I am now? Where I would like to be? One step I can take to move forwards on the path.