As I’m organizing my thoughts in preparation for next Tuesday evening’s lecture for The Meadows in Dallas, I’m drawn to the importance of the stages of change. The lecture is entitled “Letting Go and Movin’ On” and focuses on the dynamics of personal growth. Growth, of course, implies change in a positive direction. Why do some people grow more rapidly than others? Why do some people stay stuck? I think a lot of it has to do with the individual’s readiness to change. The model set forth by Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross in 1992 continues to orient us to a structured way of thinking. It is referenced in many different fields of research and treatment where change is critical. For example, UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition refers to it when guiding people into more nutritious eating habits. The American Academy of Family Physicians refers to it in helping their patients change many kinds of behavior.
A simplified version is pictured above but the complete list of all 6 stages is as follows:
1. Pre-contemplative – Clueless about the need for change; in denial.
2. Contemplative – Sitting on the fence; thinking about the possibilities; ambivalent.
3. Preparation – Experimental; toe dipping; small trials.
4. Action – Letting go and trying new regimens; dealing with obstacles.
5. Maintenance – Long haul; new attitudes; reinforcing internal rewards.
6. Relapse – Evaluate relapse triggers and reassess motives and rededicate convictions.
I want to lose weight and eat healthier this year. Okay, I’m in Stage Three when I eat oatmeal for breakfast but grab a Tootsie Roll from the bowl on the way past the secretary’s desk. I want run my first marathon in December and therefore need to be running regularly two miles three times a week now. That one’s in Stage Two. Great idea as soon as I find my ‘round tuit. Let’s include my reading habits and all the books I want to read in this stage. My wife tells me I need to get my hearing checked. Stage One definitely. Surely there must be something in Stages 4 or 5. Perhaps in a later blog post.
Spiritually, I want to get going on Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth and put those spiritual disciplines into practice. Intellectually, I know that those kinds of disciplines lead to greater freedom to live life more fully. I particularly want to concentrate on his “inward” and his “outward” disciplines.
Somehow, comfort in “what is” seems to keep winning over motivation for “what ought to be.”