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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Maintenance: Your actions are successful and your new behaviour is holding. For example, you continue exercising regularly and eating less regularly.
- Relapse: Your actions go off track. You stop exercising and start eating more.
- 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.