In my previous post I outlined the idea of “stages of change,” here I want to focus on some of the tools for change.
In the picture below you will they the stages of change lined up with appropriate tools for change. Some of the tools are appropriate in more than one stage and, in general, the activities that support change in the precontemplation stage are similar to the activities that support change in the contemplation stage.
Precontemplation and Contemplation Tools
Get the Facts
Getting the facts means learning more about the healthy behavior. Read about it on the Internet. Find out from people you know how this new behavior has changed their life. The more you focus on the new behavior and the better you understand the more likely you are to move forward towards change.
Notice Your Impact on Others
Notice how your behavior affects others in your life. Imagine how your relationships might be different if you made the change.
Pay Attention to the Feelings
Pay attention to the feelings means noticing the positive and negative emotions associated with the old behavior and the new behavior. Notice the worry, anxiety, and fear associated with the old behavior. And pay attention particularly to the sense of optimism and hope that comes from stories of change that you hear about or read about.
Notice Support for Change
Notice how other people talk about the change you are considering. Experience the support for the new behavior that surrounds you, amongst those who you know and in society at large.
Contemplation and Preparation Tools
Imagine a New You
This is one of the most powerful tools for change. Create a clear image in your mind of how your life will be different after the change. Notice the benefits. See this as clearly as possible and with as much detail as you can create. The better the picture in your mind the stronger will be your motivation for change.
Make a Commitment
Now that you have begun to create a plan for change that you feel confident about, make a commitment to yourself, and to others, that you will do what it takes to change.
As you make your commitment, ask for others to support your change. Be explicit. If you see me do “x” could you remind me of “y”. Or, please check in with me every morning to see how I am doing.
Figure out what the old behavior helped you to cope with. Find and use substitutes. Do this before you make the change so that you can get a sense of what works best for you.
Control Your Environment
When you are taking action you should do whatever you can to avoid triggers or reminders of the old behavior. If this means staying away from certain friends, or avoiding certain places, do it.
Don’t forget to reward yourself early and often for the change you are making, and ask others to notice the change as well. These early rewards are important… with time you will begin to experience the health benefits of the change, but you probably won’t feel those now.
Prochaska, J.O. and Prochaska, J.M. (2016). Changing to Thrive. Center City, MN: Hazeldon Publishing.