What makes you change your behavior?
If you’re reading this, odds are you want to develop a habit or change a behavior. Maybe you want to improve your concentration because your performance at school has been suffering. Or you’re not happy with the diet you’ve been following.
Whatever the change may be, the question is this:
What made you want to change?
People always look back and assume their decision to change occurred instantly, during a particular day or event. You might think the day you subscribed to the Fabulous app was the day you decided to strengthen your mind.
But psychologists know that such decisions are rarely instant in nature. The 5 Stages of Change model has been designed to chart how the mind ultimately changes a particular behavior. And knowing this model can help you be more aware of your thoughts, and the ways in which you can improve behavioral change.
Take the first step towards inner awareness! Start with a 5 Minute “Breather” Meditation session from the app’s Make Me Fabulous section.
The 5 Steps Your Mind Takes
It’s easy to mistakenly believe that changing your mind about something is like flipping a switch. Perhaps it comes from the way change is depicted in movies and TV Shows. We see characters experience something that makes them grit their teeth and clench their fists as the background score swells. However, in real life, our mind needs to be coaxed into taking several steps in the right direction. Keep in mind, the time between these steps can be as short as minutes, or as long as an entire lifetime.
Step #1: “Nah, I’m Fine!”
Officially referred to as the “Precontemplation” stage, this is the phase where you are quite happy with your choices and overall lifestyle. This is when you shrug off jokes about your fitness or muffle the alarm clock beneath your pillow without a second thought. And if friends, family members or authority figures like doctors try to advise you, your reaction might even be negative.
At this stage, your mind is either in denial about the problem or simply unaware of it. The key is to get to the next step. And the best way to let that happen is by keeping an open mind, one that’s free to take a step in a better direction if necessary.
Step #2: “You know what…”
The “Contemplation” stage is when the idea first begins to seep into your mind. It isn’t a fully formed idea right away, though. Instead, mere seeds that are planted through the things you see and hear, the emotions you experience. Let’s say the habit you ultimately adopt is regular exercise. Then at this particular stage, a series of events will build up that desire within you.
Maybe it starts with your favorite jeans not fitting well anymore. Then you might run into an old friend who has shaken off their depression through daily running. A few days later an ad pops up for two months free gym membership. The total duration of the Contemplation stage depends on the external circumstances, and more importantly, your internal attitude.
All these individual moments will ultimately culminate with a change in mindset. Something that makes you take a deep breath, shake your head and say, “You know what, I need to (Change a particular behavior)!” Interestingly enough, it might not be the obvious experiences that trigger this change. Others might expect you to start exercising after seeing your latest medical report, but instead, it could be the way you panted after playing hide and seek with your little daughter that brings about the epiphany.
Once you realize you want to change, the key is to act immediately. Otherwise, you run the risk of letting your mind raise flimsy objections and put up frustrating obstacles.
Step #3: “From Now On…”
Academics label it the “Determination” stage, the period right after you’ve made up your mind to change or adopt a habit. It’s that phase in life when everyone around you might chuckle or tease you for starting a sentence with the above three words.
“From now on, no more pizza and soda!”
“From now on, no more late night parties!”
Though it might seem amusing to others, such enthusiasm and excitement can be extremely beneficial, if channeled in the right direction. At this phase of the behavior change journey, you need to find a balance between caution and commitment. Meaning, it’s probably not a great idea to buy a Platinum Lifetime Membership at Gold’s Gym immediately. But you shouldn’t waste too much time looking around for more choices either.
So make reasonable yet challenging decisions that can be altered and perfected over time. And once you’ve bought a good pair of shoes and set the alarm for 6 A.M. in the morning, it’s time to take the next step.
Step #4: “Let’s Do This!”
When you wake up in the morning and hit the gym, you’re firmly in the “Action” stage of the Change Model. It’s easy to assume this is the most important phase of your transformation. After months or maybe even years of inactivity, you’re finally doing the thing you never thought you would! It’s an exciting time, but sadly, Action is not the last stage. There’s one more step you have to take.
Step #5: “Get Up. Get Going. Get Rest. Repeat.”
Most of the motivational and inspirational material, both online and in the real world, focuses on the 4th Stage. As a result, many tend to disregard just how important this 5th stage of “Maintenance” really is. So it’s crucial to understand that adopting or changing a particular behavior requires time and consistency. It’s a long journey which needs an appropriate mindset, one that focuses on the process of change rather than just the ultimate outcome.
Let the Fabulous app help you stay on track with your goals. The “Start an Exercise Habit” Journey will guide you through the challenges of the first 6 months and help you establish a permanent habit!
Step #6: “Why Do We Fall, Bruce?”
This is probably the stage you don’t want to read about, especially when you’re ready to start a new habit. But researchers believe that “Relapse” is an integral part of the Change Model. The key is to understand that, falling down does not mean you are a failure. The trick is to understand that everybody fails. But only a few manage to remember Alfred Pennyworth’s words to Batman.
“Why do we fall, Sir? So that we can pick ourselves up.”
Which Step Are You Going to Take?
It’s important to remember that the Stages of Change Model is sequential in nature. Meaning, researchers believe that we move from one stage to another. So as you read this, ask yourself: Where am I right now?
Have you never considered changing? Or is there a thought that’s brewing within? Maybe you’re about to plunge into action tomorrow morning. Or perhaps you’re feeling lousy about having failed.
Whatever the case may be, remember two things. One, you can always take the next step. And second, you have the Fabulous app ready to help you in every possible way.