Bully at Work Moody Boss Karma Office Gossip No Picnic Back stabber Plug your Ears Moody Boss

Can you change your spots in 2010?

Change Spots collage by Franke James using istockphoto/MisterM virus drawing


February is already next week!… how are those resolutions coming along?  If you haven’t yet made great strides yet, there is no need to be discouraged. You may just need a little insight into the Six Stages of Change to kick-start your action plan.

Developed by James Prochaska, a highly esteemed Professor from University of Rhode Island and author of the book, Changing for Good, the “stages of change” model is commonly applied to behavioral changes, such as diet and/or addictions, but can be applied broadly to any type of individual change. After losing his own father to alcoholism, researcher Prochaska studied ordinary individuals who were able to stop bad habits and/or instill new patterns in their life; he found that all changers, irrespective of the type of change, passed through six stages and used similar types of strategies at each respective stage. Therefore, what is great about this model is that offers a language to reflect on where you are in your own change process (and/or to muse on where someone else is), and to match appropriate forwarding strategies based on stage.

Whether you are reflecting on your own desired changes for 2010 or you want to support someone else in the change process, the stages and outline strategies below can offer you insight and/or a reminder in moving ahead. Wishing you much success for the next 11 months!

James Prochaska’s Six Stages of Change

1. Precontemplation: You are not intending to take action/make change.

Strategy: Make the Case for Change – What are the benefits of change? What are the consequences of not making the change? When the advantages of taking action outweigh the negative consequences, you’re ready for the next phase.

2. Contemplation: Now you are considering making the change, but are not ready to take action. Some people spend years in this stage.

Strategy: Identify Obstacles and Get Clear in Your Commitment. What is really getting in the way of you taking action? What is the end goal and what will it mean to reach this goal? Visualize the finish line – how will it feel?

3. Preparation: You are intending to take action in the near future, often in the next month.

Strategy: Make a Detailed Plan and Ask for Support. When, where, how will you execute? How can you make it easy for yourself? What will you do on days when you don’t feel like sticking with it or when you aren’t in your normal routine? Where do you want to be in a month? Six months? Who can you enroll your plan as accountability partners?

4. Action: You have made specific overt modifications in their life styles, typically within the past six months.

Strategy: Make it Easy for Yourself. Whatever the action you want to take, set up your environment to work for you. Whether it’s inspiring messages, motivating music, new quiet space to work or a committed partner waiting for you, create the conditions that will allow yourself to actually follow through.

5. Maintenance: You are regularly taking new actions, and working to prevent relapse of old behaviors, a stage which is estimated to last from six months to about 5 years.

Strategy: Integrate the Action with Your Identity. Whether it’s visualizing yourself doing the behavior comfortably and easily or noticing the progress made and the benefits to your life, you want to integrate the action as a life habit. When you get off track, study the triggers that have you fall off the wagon, and prepare for them going forward.

6. Termination: You have zero temptation to return to you old habit and are consistent and competent with the behavior.

Strategy: Acknowledge Yourself. You made a change for the better and stuck with it!

If you would like more detailed information on Prochaska’s model applied to a behavioral change, please see this WebMD article, which significantly influenced the content in my post.

jennifer glueck bezoza

Jennifer Glueck Bezoza specializes in leadership development and career coaching. Through her work in Organizational Development at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Jennifer designs leadership development programs, and coaches teams and individuals. Previously, Jennifer led GE Commercial Finance’s employee engagement initiative and also served as an HR Generalist at GE. In addition, she worked as a consultant at Towers Perrin.

Jennifer holds an MA in Social-Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a BA in Psychology from Stanford University. Jennifer is continuing her education through an executive coaching program at New York University.

What's your advice?

(You can also tweet it to @dearOP)