Irish Life Health interviewed me for this article on readiness to change:

Readiness to Change

Read time: 2 mins


Now that the mornings seem to be getting brighter and the evenings are getting longer, it is an ideal time to take stock of our goals and lifestyles. Did you start off the year with good intentions that have already fallen by the wayside? Are you looking for motivation to get back on track? You are not alone. It may sound easy in theory but in reality, most of us find change of any kind extremely difficult.  Yet it’s essential to our lives.

Now more so than ever the world is changing at a very fast pace and we have busy schedules, trying to keep up can lead to stress. So how can we work to succeed at making changes in our lives?

Readiness to Change 
Wellness Coach, Shane Pearson, stresses that change is a process with a number of stages. He believes that understanding these stages helps us to succeed at making changes – whether big or small.

Change is a Process 
He refers to research by professor of psychology at Rhode Island University, James Prochaska, who devised the ‘Readiness to Change’ model.

“Prochaska’s research shows that within the change process they are six different stages,” explains Shane. “When you’re attempting to make a positive lifestyle change such as getting fitter, eating better or losing weight for example, it can be incredibly valuable to know at what stage you are in the process.”

But he says it doesn’t really matter where you are in the process, as long as you’re progressing to the next stage. “It’s important to acknowledge when you’ve come through each stage in preparation for moving to the next one,” he says.


According to the Readiness to Change model, there are six stages of change which can be broken down to the following:

1. Pre-contemplation
At this stage, you’re not ready to make the change and may not be aware of the need for it.

2. Contemplation 
You are now contemplating making the change within the next six months. Shane tells us –
“You’re weighing up the pros and cons of the change, but you believe that the pros do not yet suffi-ciently outweigh the cons”.

3. Preparation
The preparation stage kicks in when you feel ready to make the change within the next 30 days. “Good preparation at this stage builds your confidence in your ability to change and sets you up for success in the next stage,” says Shane.

4. Action 
This is the stage we’re most familiar with. “In this stage you’re actually carrying out the new behaviour as planned,” encourages Shane. “But you must work to keep moving forward.”

5. Maintenance
The new behaviour is now becoming part of your routine, but you can’t take your eye off the ball just yet. It takes approximately three to six months of maintaining the new behaviour before it’s established.

6. Termination
In the last stage, the new behaviour has become ‘hardwired’ into the neural network of your brain and there comes a point when you’re unlikely to fall back into old habits so you can now stop monitoring the change.


How to use Readiness to Change Model
A lot of people think of change as simply the Action phase but without contemplation and mental preparation they are highly likely to fail. When attempting to create change of any kind, it’s vital that you recognise and remain mindful of what stage you’re at in the process.
“You can then work more consciously on what is relevant for that stage before moving to the next,” ex-plains Shane.
Sometimes unforeseen change can take place. “Forced change can be highly stressful to an individual,” he adds. “In this case, we tend to go through the process of adapting afterwards.”

If you are finding it difficult
Remember we are all capable of failing, and especially if we encounter unforeseen circumstances. If this happens, says Shane, it’s important to recognise at what stage you were at when you slipped. You need to remember too how far you came in the process, before you start again.
“The work you’ve already put in provides a solid foundation to rebound from,” he says.” As a result, getting back on track will be easier and you’re more likely to feel confident and motivated.”

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