Saturday, November 24, 2012

Setting and Reaching Goals: Behavior Change Theory 1

I really like the saying, "If you want something to change, then something has to change."
I don't know who said it. I just remember reading it and thinking how very true it is.

Prochaska's theory of change can help us understand how and why we might feel we want to change but then not be able to move forward with our plan - or - begin to move forward with our plan only to fall off the wagon and not be able to get back on track.

Pre-contemplation - You really aren't considering change. You either don't see a problem or maybe you simply don't have one.

Contemplation - You're thinking about making a change. You've identified an area of potential improvement through change. You don't necessarily plan to make that change in the next month.

Preparation - You're preparing to make a change, probably within the next month. In my opinion, this is where both the greatest opportunity for success and the biggest potential pitfalls reside.

Pitfalls first: You can get stuck in this stage in what has been termed analysis paralysis. This is when you get so hung up on examining and weighing the benefits of various methods or aproaches to changing what you want to change that you never really get to the point of making the change. Sound familiar?

Another pitfall would be plunging in headlong without making SMART goals and a solid plan. This is what happens to many, many people who make New Years resolutions based upon a diet or fitness plan that they saw advertised on late night infomercial TV. It sounds good but they haven't actually stopped to think about how it's all going to work and fit into their life.

Now Opportunity for success: You think it through, you create 1-3 SMART goals that you know you can achieve. From the smart goals you create an action plan with a time table to re-evaluate your successes and fine tune the plan as needed. Sound too boring? Sound like it's all too much trouble?

Then you might just not be in the planning stage at all. It could be that you're a "Planning wanna be" who is actually in contemplation. If this is true spend some time contemplating (pun intended) the pros and cons of the change you want to make and considering your level of committment to the change and what it would mean to your life.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the Action, Maintenance and Relapse stages and why those people who have lost weight and kept it off forever and/or who have been exercising regularly for years and years and years may not be as perfect as you think. Also, why perfection or the lack there of really doesn't matter.

My challenge to you is the think about your life and what areas you might wish to change. If you identify more than one think about whether or not they are connected. Then think about what area you would most, and I do mean most, like to make changes. Then try to picture what those changes would look like.

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