So, You Want to Make a Change…

Dana Cvijanovic 

When we think about behaviour, we often look at aspects in our lives that influence these things the most. Relationships, career, training, upbringing, even our eating forms habits that we get used to, some good, some often not so good. Some people are aware of certain behaviours that require change but don’t know where to start, others are oblivious and have yet to have a need to decide any differently. 

The transtheoretical model underpins various stages and explanations for people in the decision-making process. These stages are:

  1. Precontemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation 
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance 
  6. And often, Relapse (which then circles back to precontemplation again, if the behaviour change fails to stick)

One post certainly won’t give you all the information you need if you really want to make a change, but hey, it’s certainly a start.

Let’s look at a scenario from the context of health and fitness… 

Often people begin in the precontemplation phase, they are unaware of any problem or reason to elicit a change. If however, they experience enough negativity around their health and well-being such as significant weight gain, lack of energy or even a health scare, this may very well trigger a contemplation response. They may prepare by reaching out to a local gym, personal trainer or even attempt to educate themselves on the matter, they might then action this by attending gym classes, or minimize their junk food intake. They could be maintaining this for quite some time; self-efficacy has never been higher, motivation has never been higher and their confidence is booming. Until, of course, a form of temptation arises (this could be starting to incorporate bad foods again, skipping gym sessions etc.) perhaps their priorities change, perhaps they talk themselves down and convince themselves it’s no longer what they want, perhaps there is a mental barrier from ‘the knowing doing gap.’ They know they should be continuing with the process because it’s going to be better for them long-term, but they are struggling to follow through with the process, and with that temptation, naturally relapse follows. When an individual’s temptation is higher than their level of self-efficacy or confidence, when they stray from logic and can’t think their way through the process, the cost-benefit of this decision, the regret that might occur if they do relapse are not considered highly enough to maintain the desired behaviour change. This often leads to disappointment, low confidence and even lower self efficacy. 

Sound familiar?

Don’t despair, you’re certainly not the only one who has had to go through these changes, everyone goes through the motions at some point in their life. If you find that you relapse from your goals more often than not, it’s time to take a look at how you’re approaching your initial want to change. Sometimes all you need is a different approach, a different strategy, a realignment of what it is you want, because if you’re finding yourself going back to the same desire for change, in this scenario, to improve your health and fitness, you clearly want it, it’s just a matter of how you approach it the next time that will make it stick for good.

Key Points

There are many stages to changing your behaviour as seen in the Transtheoretical Model, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. Planning and execution may have different outcomes, relapse may occur, but it’s better to plan and action than to not, so really understand what it is that you want, write it down, work on it slowly and sustainably for the long-term. Sustainable and long-term are really the key words here, if you want something enough, if you know it’s in your best interest, then work on the things that will make it last a lifetime, and not always feel like you’re regressing or not getting the results you want. Is this going to help me? Or is this going to hinder me? If it’s going to help me, what can I do to facilitate the actions to support that, if it’s going to hinder me, what weaknesses do I have to work on to stop falling for temptation. But, take a breath, the first step towards change is recognising that you need to and if you’ve read through this and had a light bulb moment, then you’re aware of these changes that need to be made.

 And lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself, change takes time, keep persisting and remember why you’re doing it. Rome wasn’t BUILT. in a day


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