I recently was reminded of the different level of change that we can find ourselves in and I know from personal experiences that until we reach a certain level of enoughness, we are not committed to change.
And you will find yourself at any of these stages at any given time. This is something that was a huge part of my studies when earning my Master’s in Counseling and also translates into my coaching/mentoring practice because it’s super important to me that I meet you, where you are.
It’s that old saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”.
And until you have moved through the stages below, your life will essentially stay the same until you’ve hit that level of enoughness and you know something has to change (see #2-4)!
So for a quick review here are the different stages of change:
- Precontemplation is the space where you are not quite ready to acknowledge that something needs to change.
- Contemplation is the stage where you are aware there is a problem but you’re not quite sure if you are willing to create the change.
- Preparation + Determination indicate that you are getting ready for the change
- Action + willpower are leading you to change through actions.
- From there you will face maintenance where you are keeping steady with a new way of being
- Relapse is the phase where you are returning to previous thoughts + behaviors and therefore abandoning the change.
Every stage is important in the space of personal development and growth. Even the state of not being able to acknowledge that something could use a little bit of change. But until you are ready to face the next stage you will remain oblivious. This is neither good or bad – it’s just one of those things that is.
Until 2000/2001 I was in that stage. I didn’t realize I needed to change if I ever wanted to have the kind of life that I have now. It was the night I found myself with a DUI arrest and for the first time in my life deeply understood something had to change or I was either going to kill or get killed. And as a mom of 2 young kids that seemed unacceptable to me.
But there will be a point in your life where you’re like “okay something’s gotta give” because you have now realized that the way you are living and showing up in this world isn’t feeling good to you anymore. And this is where the initial awareness is happening.
And then you’re probably like, “okay, now what?”
This may be the toughest stage of them because you actually have to be willing to acknowledge what isn’t working for you.
A quick exercise for you is to write down all the things that aren’t working for you and then writing them out in a way you would like them to be.
This is something I address with my clients when they know they want to change but they don’t’ even know where to begin.
I found this to be the biggest hurdle when one moves into the contemplation stage as there will be so much noise in your head about creating change for yourself.
Voices such as your ego telling you that everything’s fine and you don’t need to change and the voices from other people in your world telling you that they don’t like the changes they are seeing – even if the changes are for the best version of yourself.
Don’t allow those voices to stop you from doing the things you love and be who you have always been.