The Art of Meaningful Living – 12: Understanding the “change process”

Information alone does not convince people to choose change. That is why many smokers know that smoking causes lung cancer, but still smoke. Making a real change needs going through an entire psychological process.

What is this process?

  1. Pre-contemplation: You have no awareness for the need for change. Some event will trigger you to move towards contemplation, which is the next stage.
  2. Contemplation: This is when you are thinking of making a change. For a smoker, this might happen when his doctor tells him he has emphysema.
  3. Preparation: You get all the information and resources you need to make a change in your life. For somebody in credit card debt, this might be reading books and websites as to how to get rid of credit card debt.
  4. Action: Your change in behaviour is happening and can be noticed by other people. For example, you start to exercise daily and eat less if your aim is to lose weight.
  5. Maintenance: Your actions are successful and your new behaviour is holding. For example, you continue exercising regularly and eating less regularly.
  6. Relapse: Your actions go off track. You stop exercising and start eating more.
  7. Termination: You keep going back to action and maintenance till you make the change you want.

Here are the seven phases in a different way:

  • Precontemplation: Problem? What  problem?
  • Contemplation: Oh, that problem. I should really do something about that.
  • Preparation: I am getting ready to do something about that.
  • Action: Now I am doing something about that.
  • Maintenance: Hey, look at me! I’m still doing it.
  • Relapse: Oh, no, I am off track.
  • Termination: I did it!

Understanding this process helps change, and change gives life meaning.