Setting goals is the easy part, smashing them can be a little harder. But not if you understand the mindset behind it. Change comes in stages and understanding the stages makes it easier.
Now that the mornings seem to be getting brighter and the evenings are getting longer, it is an ideal time to take stock of our goals and lifestyles.
Did you start off the year with good intentions that have already fallen by the wayside? Are you looking for motivation to get back on track? You are not alone. It may sound easy in theory but in reality, most of us find change of any kind extremely difficult. Yet it’s essential to our lives.
Now more so than ever the world is changing at a very fast pace. We have busy schedules and trying to keep up can lead to stress. So how can we work to succeed at making changes in our lives?
Change is a process
Wellness coach Shane Pearson stresses that change is a process with a number of stages. He believes that understanding these stages helps us to succeed at making changes – whether big or small.
He refers to research by professor of psychology at Rhode Island University, James Prochaska, who devised the Readiness to Change model.
“Prochaska’s research shows that within the change process there are six different stages,” explains Shane. “When you’re attempting to make a positive lifestyle change such as getting fitter, eating better or losing weight it can be incredibly valuable to know at what stage you are in the process.”
But he says it doesn’t really matter where you are in the process, as long as you’re progressing to the next stage. “It’s important to acknowledge when you’ve come through each stage in preparation for moving to the next one,” he says.
According to the Readiness to Change model, there are six stages of change which can be broken down as follows.
At this stage, you’re not ready to make the change and may not be aware of the need for it.
You are now contemplating making the change within the next six months. Shane says: “You’re weighing up the pros and cons of the change, but don’t yet believe that the pros sufficiently outweigh the cons”.
The preparation stage kicks in when you feel ready to make the change within the next 30 days. “Good preparation at this stage builds your confidence in your ability to change and sets you up for success in the next stage,” says Shane.
This is the stage we’re most familiar with. “In this stage you’re actually carrying out the new behaviour as planned,” encourages Shane. “But you must work to keep moving forward.”
The new behaviour is now becoming part of your routine, but you can’t take your eye off the ball just yet. It takes approximately three to six months of maintaining the new behaviour before it’s established.
In the last stage, the new behaviour has become ‘hardwired’ into the neural network of your brain and there comes a point when you’re unlikely to fall back into old habits so you can now stop monitoring the change.
How to use Readiness to Change model
A lot of people think of change as simply the Action phase; but without contemplation and mental preparation they are highly likely to fail. When attempting to create change of any kind, it’s vital that you recognise and remain mindful of what stage you’re at in the process.
“You can then work more consciously on what is relevant for that stage before moving to the next,” explains Shane.
Sometimes unforeseen change can take place. “Forced change can be highly stressful to an individual,” he adds. “In this case, we tend to go through the process of adapting afterwards.”
If you are finding it difficult
Remember we are all capable of failing, and especially if we encounter unforeseen circumstances. If this happens, says Shane, it’s important to recognise at what stage you were at when you slipped. You need to remember too how far you came in the process, before you start again.
“The work you’ve already put in provides a solid foundation to rebound from,” he says.” As a result, getting back on track will be easier and you’re more likely to feel confident and motivated.”
Irish Life Health is an official partner of WellFest 2018. Gain an insight into the personal wellness journeys of the festival lineup at the WellTalk area in association with Irish Life Health.
WellKids in association with Irish Life Health is expanded this year. It will provide a variety of activities for your little ones to enjoy, from yoga to Zumba and more.