Stages of Change Models

Have you every said, “I want to get in better shape” or “I want to tone up” or even maybe “I just want to feel healthier?”  Well you’re not the only one.  Lots of people have uttered these phrases and lots more will.  These things are very subjective, and can mean lots of different things to different people.

Here’s something I continually forget in life that will always remain true.  Extraordinary results come from extraordinary effort.  I’ll be honest with you all, I wish that I could get the things I want just handed to me.  It would make my life so much less complex and challenging.  Sometimes I even get this entitled mentality (I’m always trying to break this mindset because it’s bad) that I deserve what so-and-so has because I’m just as good as they are, aren’t I?  I see the reality of it like this; I might be as good as the next guy, but until I’ve put in the work they have I won’t get where they are.  It’s that simple.

So what’s the key here?  I will argue that it is motivation.  How bad do I want it?  Chris is a master of digging into people’s motivations.  His ability to determine rapidly what motivates people has intrigued me, and to better myself and learn something I decided I would study up on models of motivation.  What I found I think is very interesting.  Lets see what you think…

Perhaps you have heard of a model for assessing motivation called the States of Change Model (SCM).  This model arrived in literature in the late 70’s / early 80’s from a couple guys (Prochaska and DiClemente) studying how smokers were able to kick the habit.  The underlying principles of the SCM model are change doesn’t happen in one step.  Instead, Prochaska and DiClemente observed that people progress through stages at their own rate on their journey to successful change.  Each person decides for themselves when each stage is complete and when it is time to progress to the next stage.  Furthermore, long term change cannot be externally imposed, the decision must come from inside the individual for anything meaningful to happen.  The steps are as follows:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation/Determination
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Relapse
  7. Transcendence

This is the classic “denial” phase.  Here, we don’t think we have any reason to change, we don’t focus on changing, and we’re un-interested in talking about it.

Here, we begin to contemplate our issues and perhaps consider the possibility of change, although we may be very indecisive.  This stage is difficult and depending on the scenario and person could be moved through rapidly or maybe take a lifetime to resolve.  We run the risk of paralysis by analysis and may in fact never get through it.  Doubt might creep into our minds, and we can convince ourselves that the long-term benefits do not outweigh the short-term costs.

It’s go time now, having pressed through the contemplating.  We’ve made the commitment to change.  Here we start our research, gathering information and building strategies to help us on our journey.

I’ve messed up here a few times.  My mom used to call me a bull because I’d get an idea in my head and just go for it.  More often than not this ended in failure.  So there’s a line we have to walk here, and it’s a line I’m convinced that masters at anything have clearly defined and that sets them apart from the rest of us.  We have to gather enough information to minimize risk and setbacks, but at some point we have to take action and move forward or we get trapped in information overload.

If we’ve made it here, we believe we can actually get what we want and are taking steps to get it done.  Depending on what we’re shooting for, this could be the shortest of the stages, or it could take some time.  Our motivation plays a big role in this stage, because we rely on our willpower to keep us from relapsing.  It’s a good idea to use short term rewards to sustain that motivation.  Remaining open to outside help and support from others is also very important.

The goal in this stage is to maintain our new way of life.  We have changed up our behavior to produce a desired outcome.  Now we must continue to remind ourselves of the progress we’ve made, reevaluate, and seek out new skills to help us avoid relapse.  Be aware that it is going to take some time to adopt new behavior patterns, and that it is normal to attain one stage, only to fall back to another.  We may get to the maintenance stage, but slip back down to action.  This is a normal and an acceptable part of change.

It’s going to happen.  Most people will experience it.  It is more common to experience at least one relapse than it is to experience none.  Relapse brings us feelings of discouragement and seeing oneself as a failure.

I’ve been here many a time.  Failure is part of life.  Embrace it and face it.  For some (particularly the startup culture of Silicon Valley) failure is a necessary part of the equation and is expected.  Here’s my take on failure/relapse: minimize the damage as much as possible.  Failure can be debilitating and leave you emotionally crushed.  Remember to celebrate EVERY little victory along the way, analyze the failures, and modify the behavior to avoid the same failures.

Example: I do my best to anticipate high-risk situations, and control environmental cues that will promote behavior I’m not in favor of.  I know if I don’t cook and pack my lunch the night before I come to work I’ll be starving, food-less, and will succumb to eating whatever I can get my hands on quickly (never a healthy choice). This helps to mitigate my chances of relapsing into a less health conscious Stetson.

If we do relapse, it is very important we don’t digress all the way to the pre-contemplation or contemplation stages.  Restart the process at the preparation, action, or maintenance stage and press onward.

We’ve officially made it if we’re here.  We are now a different person having effectively changed our “old self.”

What level would you put yourself at right now when it comes to your health and fitness?  What is your motivation?  The more clearly you define what is motivating you the more smoothly you’ll transition between the levels.  Generalized statements such as “I want to feel better” are fine, but a specific motivation like, “I want to be able to do 24 rounds of Cindy in 20 minutes” will make the progression through the stages more clear.  Chances are that if you can achieve something like that, you’re also going to “feel better.”

The O-Board Says…

A. EMOTM For 10 Minutes
3 Position Snatch

B. AMRAP 10 Minutes
15 Ground To Overhead
30 Double Unders

C. Wild Card Finisher — coaches’ call 🙂

Posted by: Stets