Deciding to Make a Change


Over the past week, I’ve had a number of friends commit to regaining their health by eating better or joining a gym. I applaud them!

Coaches help people get from point-A to point-B in their life but unless someone knows they want to make that trip, it’s a difficult road to travel. So, how do you decide that it’s time to change?

There are dozens of behavioral change models but I use Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change. The first three stages are: Pre-contemplation when an individual can’t see or accept a problem or behavior and they resist change, Contemplation where a person acknowledges that change needs to occur and Preparation where they begin planning to take action. My friends are all in this planning phase.

Until someone accepts that a change needs to take place, (they reach that contemplation phase) there’s little that anyone else can do for them. You can try to educate, lead by example and even beg and plead but, until they see that there’s a problem, they are more likely to think that you’re the problem. What is effective is being there for them and listening. As soon as you have a hint that they are beginning to take responsibility for their behavior and have recognized the issue, then you can help them start moving forward.

Once someone is contemplating a change, they need support. People often get stuck in “I will someday” and a list of excuses here. One of the most effective tools described by Prochaska is “emotional arousal.” Expose this person to as many different experiences as possible that will reinforce the positive nature of them changing their habits. One popular example is the TV show Biggest Loser. Personal opinions aside, the show can be a great motivator. Someone watching the show that doesn’t think they have a weight issue will see it in a different light than someone that has just come to terms with the fact that they could be a contestant. Seeing others succeed gives them the encouragement that they could do the same and this might be just enough energy to stop thinking and actually start making plans for themselves.

Once you’re ready to make that change, you start planning on how to make that happen. Options here are limitless and vary depending on the behavior you’re trying to modify. The important part of this phase is that you keep moving and don’t get stuck in a cycle of “almost ready.” This is where a coach or other professional can provide great value. To see results, you need to eventually be done planning and start acting.

If you’ve recently made some change in your life, what was it that made you decide you needed to act? Once you reached that point, how long was it before you began making preparations to do something about it?

Image courtesy of Surachai at

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  1. How to Turn Your Commitment to Change into Action | Motoring Forward Coaching

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