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How do people change?

Posted Jan 03 2012 8:05pm

Stages of Change – Preparation

In the last two blogs we explored steps one and two of a model of change. Some of you will remember that I was using a weight loss example. The need to change could be weight loss but it might also be addiction, job or career change or a relationship event. So to recap past episodes of my little story, I go to a reunion, people tell me I have put on a lot of weight. At first I deny this, and I argue about it. That stage of change is called pre-contemplation. Next I do some thinking about it. I weigh myself, ask the advice of others and I do lots of thinking about it. Finally despite all my efforts to avoid having a problem I discover that in fact I do have a problem. Now I am forced with a choice. 

At this point I could just accept the fact that I am now FAT!  Accept and go on with my life maybe embrace the idea. Yes I am fat and proud of it. Since I am fat why not be the best that I can be and let my fatness shine through. Some people accept their problem. Many alcoholics go on drinking till the bitter end. Or- as strange as this may seem to some people I could decide to make a change and face my problem. That brings us to the third stage of change.

Stage of change 3 – Preparation. Some authors call this determination.

So I decide to challenge my fatness or my joblessness or – could be any other problem. I get out the phone book and look up gyms. There is one right around the corner and I call them. Then for good measure I call a few more. Most gyms have sales on new memberships around the first of every year. Three months for the price of two and so on. They know that lots of us will decide to exercise, get in shape, join a gym as part of our New Year’s resolution. They also know to get the cash now, because by February at the latest most of the new gym members will have stopped coming. But a few people will stay at it and next year they will be that slim trim self I want to be. So how do they do it?

So I go down and tour this gym. I like the place, friendly people and all, so I join. And I get ready. There is a sporting goods store in that shopping center and I go there and buy some new exercise clothing. Notice I still haven’t exercised much but my credit card at this point. But there is more.

I see a video sales and rental place in the center. I go in there and find some exercise videos. I am in whole hog. I buy three videos. Now I take them home and put them in the VCR.  (Update this to DVD or Blue Ray or Hollow-suite program as needed.) I pop a big bowl of popcorn put my feet up and sit and watch these three videos, faithfully for a week. I really like watching exercise videos. Not so sure about actually exercising though. See a problem here?

Pause this picture for a minute. Doesn’t this apply to most any planed change? People buy books, self help or AA books, and then they take them home and pile them on the table and balance a drink on them. Other people put that new self help book under their pillow in the hope that by osmosis the book will change us while we sleep. Unfortunately change requires more than preparation. Don’t misunderstand here. Getting a list of meetings for AA or weight loss places is good. Joining a gym is good also. But doesn’t it take more than preparation to make a change?

At some point I need to stop preparing, use that determination and actually do something. Next blog we will talk about that next fourth stage of change where the rubber meets the road, where we finally start doing some things that result in change. So if you still want to learn about stages of change stay tuned for the next blog post. If you have decided to stay the way you are or to change someone else, skip the next couple of posts and rejoin us for the episode after the change is over. Feel free to share you thoughts along the way.

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