Thinking about a change? Part 1: Contemplation stage

When you think about changing, you are one step closer to your goal! List the pros and cons to help prepare yourself for change.

The New Year signals a time to make some changes for many Americans. University of Scranton research shows that 45 percent of Americans made New Year’s resolutions in 2014. If you are one of the millions of Americans who make resolutions, you know first-hand how hard it is to change a behavior and that setbacks are common. However, when your change becomes a part of your daily routine, a new habit is formed.

Behavior change has been studied a lot by researchers. One of the models used to understand behavior change is called the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change or Stages of Change. People can move from one stage to the other in an orderly fashion, but most people skip around between stages. Knowing what stage you are in can help keep you on track to meeting your goal.

When you want to make a change but haven’t started yet, you are in the Contemplation Stage. One way to move out of the contemplation stage is to make a list of the benefits of, and the barriers to the behavior change you want make. Starting with the list of benefits, write down all your possible answers to the question, “How would life be better if I made this change?” For example, if your goal is to “eat better,” your list of benefits might include:

  1. Improve my health
  2. Feel proud of myself
  3. Set an example for my kids

Next, make a list of barriers by answering the question, “What are some of the things in my life that prevent me from making a change?” Using the “eat better” goal as an example, your list of barriers might include:

  1. No time to cook
  2. Costs too much
  3. Don’t know where to start

Review your list of benefits as a way to motivate you to make a change. When you decide to change, then you are in the preparation stage. Michigan State University Extension has information on a wide variety of topics that can help with each Stage of Change.

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