The Stages Of Change And How To Best Cope

We all make changes in our lives. Even though we’re usually encouraged to do so out of some desire for improvement, actually getting to the point where the change has taken effect requires effort and determination.

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That’s probably because there are several stages associated with change, and each one can create some kind of resistance that might ultimately make people give up and stay stuck in their old ways.

Keep reading to learn more about what’s officially called the Transtheoretical Model of Change, but is sometimes just referred to as the “readiness to change model.” Knowing more about the different phases you can expect when making a change should help you feel more equipped to thrive through them instead of getting overwhelmed.

After all, genuine change rarely results from a single decision, but occurs over time, across a period of evaluation and adjustment.


This is the time in which you have a desire to change, but haven’t yet reached the point of wanting to take action. It’s common to underestimate the benefits of making a particular change and overestimate the possible downsides of whatever you’re trying to alter.

Compensate for that natural tendency by thinking about all the good things that should come about as a result of your intended change at least once a day. That thought process could help you get and stay motivated to act.


This phase happens once you start thinking about taking action. People often get discouraged at this point because they are not sure how to get started with making the change. However, they’re usually open to information and feedback.

If you find that you’re in the contemplation stage, try to associate with individuals who have successfully gone through the change you wish to make. Perhaps you’d like to lose a few pounds, stop smoking or start learning a new language with some of the time that you’d normally spend watching TV.

Whatever the case may be, you might find it helpful to visualize some of the advantages you’d enjoy after going through with the change. Alternatively, use a big piece of poster board and paste some images on it that represent something related to your change. It should keep you inspired.


If you’ve reached the preparation phase, that means you feel that the benefits of making a change clearly outweigh the possible downsides. Even so, you may still feel hindered by a lack of confidence.

One great way to cope if you’re feeling timid about charging ahead is to think of possible “what if” scenarios, and mentally work out how you’d get through them. There is a good chance that many of them won’t ever come to pass, but at least if they do, you’ll have laid the groundwork for how to work out a solution.

Furthermore, you may find it helpful to hire a life coach or join a support group during this phase to help yourself stay on track for success.


During this phase where you start implementing the decisions that will cause the change to take effect, it’s crucial to be surrounded by a good network of people who understand you’re committed to making a change and want to help you succeed. That’s because this is the time when you’re most likely to lapse back into old habits rather than making new ones.

However, don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a few slip-ups. The most important thing is to keep your dedication level high and keep sight of the things that have brought you this far.

MaintenancePin It

After you have been taking action for about six months and doing so on a consistently successful basis, it’s then time to move into this final phase of change. Hopefully by now, the new behaviors you’ve adopted have started to become integrated into your life, and you’ve started to reap some of the associated rewards.

At this stage, your risk of relapsing into your old ways is much lower than in past stages, but it’s still present. Things like stress or boredom can threaten your desire to stay on the path of change. Counteract those factors by treating every stress trigger as an opportunity to learn new strengths, and avoid boredom by taking up some new healthy activities that can keep you occupied in good ways.

Hopefully, you now understand that although making a change is a complicated process, it’s also a very worthy one that can improve your life in numerous ways.

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