Part 1: The Process of Making a Change
We have all been inspired at some point in our life, right? But what happens to that inspiration after a couple days, weeks, or months? Does your drive fade, do you lose focus or run out of ideas? According to the US News1, approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the middle of February. It takes only 6 WEEKS to lose 80% of the population that was inspired to make a change. As for the other 20%, kudos to you because it definitely takes hard work and strong commitment in making a lifestyle change. Finding inspiration to make a change is the easy part, actually making it and sticking to it is the hard part. Luckily for you we are here to designate the steps necessary to keep motivated!
Let’s start out with the process of making a lifestyle change. The Transtheoretical Model2 encompasses a biopsychosocial approach that has evolved over the years in describing how human beings process a lifestyle change. The model recognizes people may be in different stages for readiness to change, which in turn has an effect on what you are doing to make that change.
There are five stages to this model that must occur before making an actual lifetime commitment.
Stage 1: Precontemplation
People in this stage are not seriously thinking about making a change in the foreseeable future (within 6 months). This may be someone that is content with where they are in life and do not see any negative consequences with their behavior. Whether they are under informed or uninformed of the consequences, these individuals tend to be resistant to any behavior change.
Stage 2: Contemplation
People in this stage are beginning to think about making a lifestyle change within the next six months. They begin to recognize both the pros and cons of making the change but may feel ambivalent about the consideration.
Stage 3: Preparation
People in this stage are ready to take action within the immediate future. For many of us, it’s the planning we do in December knowing that we want to make a change for the new year. This tends to be the beginning of finding the inspiration you need.
Stage 4: Action
People in this stage have begun making the modifications necessary to promote a lifestyle change. Whether it be exercising more regularly, eating a healthier diet, or other decisions, they are inspired and actively pursuing their goals.
Stage 5: Maintenance
People in this stage have been performing their modifications for at least 6 months and are working to prevent a relapse. The longer an individual is in this stage, the more confident they become in continuing their change and the less tempted they are in relapsing.
This model theoretically is a nice circular process such as this:
However, if you’ve ever tried to make a change, you already know that it’s not that easy.
In reality the model looks more like this:
This model shows many events of relapse and re-entering in an effort to continue pursuing your goals of being in the maintenance phase. You may be able to place yourself in one area of this model as you have consistently tried over and over again to make that change but end up losing the inspiration. Whether it was you beginning an exercise program in January and quitting by February, or actually making a commitment to eat healthy for an entire year and then end up falling off the wagon because life got in the way. Trust me we have seen it all and, in the end, it takes a lot of self-efficacy and determination to remain in the maintenance phase.
For example, in an article about smoking abstinence and success, researchers found that it took upwards of 5 years for a majority of former smokers to continue to refrain from smoking!3 5 years!!! That means that a majority of former smokers who have quit for nearly 3-4 years ended up having a relapse and went back to smoking.
So, we understand the complexity of keeping the inspiration alive, but we are not here to tell you that it’s okay to quit all together. In order to figure out how to keep the passion alive, we’ll be delivering insight on the top barriers individuals face when trying to make a behavior change. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we give our tips for overcoming those barriers so you can live beyond limits!
- Making a lifestyle change is a process that takes a lot of determination and self-efficacy
- Plan for relapses to happen and identify solutions to help prevent them for allowing yourself to quit altogether
- It takes upwards of 2-5 years to make the change an actual lifetime commitment
- Don’t let anybody tell you it’s easy, but keep close to those that encourage and motivate you to continue with your goals!
- Luciani J. Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail. The US News. Published: December 29, 2015. Accessed: April 12, 2018.
- Prochaska, J.O., Redding, C.A., & Evers, K. (2002). The Transtheoretical Model and Stages of Change. In K. Glanz, B.K. Rimer & F.M. Lewis, (Eds.) Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (3rd Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
- Gilpin E, Pierce J, Farkas, A. Duration of smoking abstinence and success in quitting. Journal of National Cancer Institute. 1997, 89(8): 572-576