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Understanding your Motivation and the Stages of Change

Before you begin your journey to change yourself physically or mentally, you must first realize which stage of change you are currently in. These stages dictate our focus, motivation, and tendencies. Have you ever started a routine to only fall off after a week? You were not mentally prepared and in the right stage of change to actually follow through. Understanding these will give us insight into our behaviors and help us to learn and understand, not beat ourselves up for falling off or not having the motivation to start.

The 6 Stages of Change:

First is Pre-Contemplation, or Denial. This is where you have NO desire to change behavior in the foreseeable future. Many individuals are unaware or underaware of their problems. They may deny that there is an issue or push back at the thought of change. Our best option here is to educate individuals on their health concerns and how change can impact them.

Second is Contemplation. In this stage individuals are aware a problem exists and are seriously thinking about taking action in the near future, typically 3-6 months out. Think about losing weight as a New Years resolution, most start contemplating it before Thanksgiving! As they start to build value in changing, education is the best course of action here as well. They will typically not be successful in their endeavors if they start in this stage.

Then we enter the Preparation stage. Individuals here are intending to take action during the next month as they build towards the behavioral change. They firmly believe in the benefits of said change and are actively thinking about it and how it will impact their health. Many who have unsuccessfully started the next stage, Action, find themselves in preparation.

Action is the most essential stage of change. Here behaviors, experiences, and environments are modified in order to overcome the obstacle. Action involves the most overt behavioral changes and requires a considerable amount of time and energy. Proper time management, continued education, and positive reinforcement are needed to succeed in this stage. There is still a strong tendency to fall back to old habits in this stage.

The fourth stage is Maintenance. Once you have maintained your changed behavior for 6 months. Here the individual millwork to prevent relapse and consolidate gains made during the Action stage. The individual has typically experienced positive changes which can be used to motivate and help stay on task.

There final stage is Termination, or Habit. Congratulations, you made it! You changed your behavior for 6+ months and are loving the benefits. You are such a believer your changes have now become habitual and you value your time devoted.

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