We’re about 3 weeks away to 2019. For many, now is a time of preparing for the holidays, or scrambling to close up goals for 2018.
But it’s also the perfect time to start incubating what you want moving forward.
You can start this plan today, or you can wait until January 1st. The truth is, simply reading this article already puts you on the path of the first step of the 6-stage plan that’s research acclaimed and proven to yield the results you seek.
In the book Changing for Good, Prochaska, Norcoss, and Diclemente share their research proven method of change which unfolds in 6 stages:
1.Pre-contemplation: We’re in denial or just on the edge of thinking we might want to shift this area of our life. Chances are other people in our life might be bothering us about this but we always have the perfect excuse of why we behave as we do. If you take a moment to reflect on where in your life you may be hiding, avoiding, or scared to look at–this might be an area where you’re in the first stage of pre-contemplation.
2. Contemplation: We finally can admit that this area of our life would be better if we made a change, but we’re not sure if we want to change it.
Often the pros outweigh the cons when we first hit this stage. For example, let’s say you overeat at night. You might realize it’s a problem but are not ready to take action because you like the comfort too much and just aren’t ready to change.
Or maybe you’ve finally admitted to yourself that you can’t stand your job, but aren’t ready to make a change because you have too many bills to pay and the thought of finding a new job or completely shifting work directions seems like too much work.
Maybe you’re in a relationship that you feel so-so about. Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re not. You’ve thought about leaving it many times, but you’re just not sure if it’s time right now. At this stage you’re in thinking-mode.
Is It Worth It? is the question
And the only way to get out of this stage is for the pain to be stronger than the joy. For the cons to finally outweigh the pros of being in this situation
3. Preparation: You’re finally feeling clear that the change needs to happen. You recognize change rarely happens overnight. At this stage you’ll start to plan what steps you’d need to take to find a new job, or you might start researching alternative career possibilities. Or you might find yourself planning how you’ll unhook from a relationship where you feel like your lives are intertwined.
Planning is important.
If the idea of planning gives you anxiety – you’re not alone.
Sometimes we just want to rush into action, but if we rush without a clear plan we have higher chances of failure or giving up. By taking time to plan the steps, and even possibly the timeline of our change we set ourselves up for success.
A plan might be sitting down for an afternoon and writing out a step by step plan. Or a plan may take us weeks as we reflect upon how we got to our unhappy circumstance (the present) what factors or triggers got us here in the first place, and then creating a plan to make sure we don’t fall into the same traps again.
For example, if you know having ice cream in the house leads you to overeat, part of your plan will be to keep ice cream out of the house and that the only way to get ice cream is going to a specialty shop and buying a single scoop that you’ll enjoy mindfully.
If you reflect that your current relationship was a product of your loneliness and not a sincere mutuality, you’ll make a plan to work through your loneliness so that you won’t just break up with your current partner to fall into the same cycle again.
Once you have your plan (even if it’s not perfect) you’re ready to move on to the next stage:
4. Action: For some of us it will be obvious and easy to get into action. Other times we might want to stay in the comfort of planning forever. It’s important to take responsibility for our life, to make yourself priority, and to choose to take action. It might never seem like the right day, but if you’ve planned enough, it’s time to take a step forward.
Even a small step is a meaningful step.
The Action Stage is where we change our behaviour.
:We have the uncomfortable conversation
:We apply to jobs or call up a college or training institute to meet with admissions and decide if this is the right step forward.
:We make the appointment, clear out our pantry–any action that takes us closer to our goal.
We’re in active change mode. Depending on what we’re changing it can take daily work/feel like a life-long process of daily commitment, or it may be a specific series of changes for a certain period of time until we reach our “finish line.”
5. Maintenance: Once your change has hit a steady state it’s time to focus on maintaining the new positive shift you created. Let’s say you broke up from the unhealthy relationship, now you’re making sure that anyone you meet is for a healthy reason based on your values and continuing to take active positive steps to nurture your joy, wholeness, and soul.
Sometimes during our journey of change we have a relapse or a slip: this could be a night of overeating, or starting up a relationship with the wrong type of person and we quickly see red flag after red flag. THIS is the moment where we can make a QUICK shift back to action/our healthier way of life.
Sometimes we might find ourselves all the way back in pre contemplation, perhaps we’ll be blind to the red flags, or contemplate if the red flags are really red flags, or we’ll clearly see we fell into our old pattern and we’ll quickly make a shift back to our healthy choices of being in a healthy relationship, healthy job, healthy self-care regime, or whatever positive change you’re embarking upon.
6. The final stage is known as “termination” At this point our new way of being is so ingrained in us we couldn’t imagine even having the craving or inclination to go back to how we used to be.
This final stage of change doesn’t always happen – there are certain things in life – let’s say a tendency to worry that may always be with us, but we can keep it in-check/have healthy coping mechanisms for life.
Then there are other things like quitting fast food where once you’re given a chance to go back of it you find yourself sincerely not enjoying the taste or feeling and have no desire to ever eat fast food again.
The concept of “termination” means different things depending on the person and circumstance, but one thing’s for sure–once you hit this stage you’re new normal/new quality of life/new habit is so ingrained–you’d rather live your healthier lifestyle than go back to the old way.
As you can see there’s no need to wait for New Years. Just by reading this article you’ve already stirred your mind to awaken to possibilities – contemplating or becoming aware of what areas of your life may be asking you for a change.
The truth is if you start NOW, then by the time New Years rolls around you’ll truly be ready to take action in a way that’s guaranteed to lead to positive change in your life.
I wish you all the best as you embark on this journey.