After observing a period of waiting and researching the impact of a change, Prochaska’s Stages of Change recommend preparing, acting, and maintaining the change.
In Volume 28 of this guest series, psychotherapist, Dr. Francis L. Battisti, and nutritionist, Dr. Helen Battisti, continue to encourage us to process the changes to our lives brought on by the pandemic, using Prochaska’s Stages of Change.
For over 10 years, they have worked closely with us on aging concerns and have presented many webinars and in-person workshops. Their newsletter, The Zone, is a weekly mental health and nutrition tip sheet during times of change.
As a follow-up to last week’s The ZONE (XXVII) in which we were discussing the stages of change and how they can be used to navigate our day to day decisions, we suggest the following:
The first two stages are Pre-contemplative and Contemplative where no change is intended during the next six months and is a time for information gathering.
The final three stages include Preparation, Action and Maintenance. Preparation is the stage when we realize that we have committed to making the change within thirty days. A plan is crafted for execution. The plan includes an assessment of resources, both internal and external, that are either present or need to be developed or required. The Action stage is when the identified change has been put in place for less than six months. As with all changes, this is not necessarily a smooth road. Feedback, problem-solving, social support and reinforcements are ingredients to sustain the change. The fifth stage is the Maintenance stage. This is defined as where the change has been in place for more than six months. Strategies that are helpful include assistance with coping, reminders as to why you made the decision to change, finding modifications to the established change and avoiding complacency and reverting to old patterns.
An example of this process in action can be demonstrated by the decision to begin/increase personal savings. Without a savings plan, should a major event happen that requires an increase need for personal funds, we may find ourselves in a deficit position. Prior to the major event, we were probably in the Pre-Contemplative or Contemplative stages, thinking that maybe in the future we will start saving/increase funds but not right away. When the major event occurs and we need more funds, it may necessitate a change in how we distribute our funds to make ends meet. This awareness would find the individual in the Preparation and Action stages.
- The Preparation stage is when we are committed to making the changes in the next thirty days.
- The process of change has its ups and downs.
- The Action and Maintenance stages are critical times for complacency and reverting to old behaviors.
- Be vigilant to where change is needed.
- Listen to the “Sages of our Time” who have experiences with what may be ahead.
- Learn what has been successful from prior changes in your life.
Things to Limit
- Thinking that you have a crystal ball of what lies ahead.
- Believing that all changes just happen.
- Hoping that changes are linear and permanent.
In summary, change is a constant in our lives. Some changes, such as weather patterns, occur naturally and we mostly adapt without thinking about them. On the other hand, when events change our perspective, we may need to adapt for survival purposes. Understanding the dynamics of the change process can assist us in reaching the desired outcome.
Quote of the Week
“The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
–William Arthur Ward