Thinking about a change? Part 4: Maintenance stage

You know how to deal with set-backs and stick with your new routine.

Behavior change is tough! The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change or Stages of Change is one of the models used to help people make changes. First, you think about changing. This stage is called contemplation. During this stage you make a list of benefits and barriers to the change you are considering. When you make up your mind to change, you are in the preparation stage. Part of your preparation is making a plan that includes some solutions to the barriers you listed. When you take action and make changes, you are in the action stage. You notice how the changes make you feel, and you like it! Journaling can help you stay on track.

The final stage is maintenance. Maintenance refers to the phase when you have continued the new habit for at least six months. During this stage, you will likely still have set-backs, but you are more confident and prepared to overcome them. Use your journal to help understand what causes these set-backs, and think of ways to avoid or deal with the “triggers” that cause you to slip up. Using the “eating better” goal as an example, you notice by looking through your journal that workplace potlucks make you feel like a failure because you eat too much. You tried bringing your own lunch, but then you are sad because you are not part of the group. Another solution might be to bring a healthy dish to the next potluck. You will have a dish you feel good about eating, and you can participate in the potluck with your co-workers.

Whether you are making a New Year’s resolution or want to make a change to improve your lifestyle, there are numerous resources out there to help you. Michigan State University Extension has information on a wide variety of topics that will help you stay on track and reach your behavior change goals.

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