A recent column by Dr. Oz in Time magazine explored the difficulty of turning a resolution into an action that sticks. Part of the challenge is “getting unstuck,” which involves progressing through five steps through an approach called the transtheoretical model. Whether you want to quit smoking, lose weight or move on from a job that has left you unfulfilled, these five stages can be the key to sustained transition.
Pre-contemplation – You may or may not recognize that you have a real problem to solve, or you are not yet inspired to act and change
Contemplation – This is the stage where you analyze your problem and decide to take action. This is also the stage where a lot of individuals “get stuck” and find they are unable to move to the next stage.
Preparation – You feel ready to engage in change and you even start to let others know about your plans. Asking for help and support during this stage can help you to implement change more smoothly.
Action – You are engaged in behaviors that help you to move towards your goal. You identify small milestones and troubleshoot difficulties. You keep working towards your goal.
Maintenance – You continue to use support systems or other tools to keep your goal in place. If you achieved a weight goal then you may continue weekly weigh-ins, communicate with your dietician by email, and modify your exercise program for energy balance rather than weight loss. If you were able to quit smoking, then you may still continue to use patches or gum on an as-needed basis, and you may also decide to continue attending a support group, but with less frequency.
Setting goals is the key to changing behaviors. Moving through these five stages may be your key to achieving those goals.