Most people would like to improve themselves, that is just ingrained in us I think. Who wouldn’t want to be a better version of themselves? Regardless of whether or not it is something about the way you look, how you feel or even the way things are going with you job or relationships, if you are unhappy you need to make a change that is obvious. Look at how Einstein defines insanity, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. The first step with making improvements besides the actual realization that SOMETHING needs to be changed, is to find out if you are actually ready. You may think that you are ready but it might surprise you to know that people move through 5 stages of readiness before the actual changes can begin. I will address this on a physical activity level but this process and model is applicable to anything from quitting smoking, adopting a more positive mindset to anything else in your life that you may want to address. Read through and see where you fall in your true level of readiness for change:
First Stage: Precontemplation – this is typically the stage where the thought has probably not even crossed your mind that you are in need of a change. Maybe you are even in denial. Others may see and comment or try to help but you are in no way receptive or open to what they are telling you.
Second Stage: Contemplation – this is the stage where you may finally accept that there is a change needed in what you are currently doing. You acknowledge and accept at this stage and begin to seriously think about making changes.You may still need convincing here though as you are not fully believing in the need for change. You may need more convincing. Many people are in this stage for years before moving forward.
Third Stage: Preparation – this is the stage where you may make the decision and will start to recruit help or will make your goals public. In the case of getting more active, this is the stage where you may start to incorporate more NEPA (non-exercise physical activity) like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from your destination and walking etc. You may still need convincing at this stage which is why it is good to begin to write down your goals and at this stage it often begins with action goals (i.e I want to lose ten pounds) vs behaviour goals (i.e. I will eat 5-6 smalls balanced meals per day, I will workout 45 minutes 5 times per week etc.).
Fourth Stage: Action – this stage is when you start to actually focus in on the behaviour goal aspects and start to really hone in on the actual application of what needs to be done to make the changes and meet your goals. This is where you well, take full on action. As an example of this stage, you may meet your physical activity goals for 6 months and you are progressing well toward your goal.
Fifth Stage: Maintenance – people often think of the action stage as THE most important stage and the end all be all of reaching a goal but this stage is extremely important for long term success. In the case of health or fitness or fat loss, this would be the part where the changes have become a lifestyle. This is the continuation of the application of those behaviour goals for a lifetime and not just for short term. This is a big stage that is absent from many i.e those who go on a diet, lose weight than gain it all back.
So where do you fall? Are you TRULY ready to make changes towards becoming a better version of yourself and achieving a goal? These 5 stages can be looked at and applied to any part of your life that you feel is preventing you from ultimate happiness and well-being.
P.S. I do not believe in the relapse stage but yes it may and often does happen and when and if it does, just remember to reset and refocus and get back on towards achieving success.