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Why Change Doesn't Stick

Lynn Smith, LMT
Professional Health Coach

Did you make a resolution last New Year's? Was it to lose ten pounds, workout regularly or eat better? Three months later were you still sticking to that resolution? Probably not. Even worse, was that resolution the same one you made the previous year?

We set these goals with good intentions. We realize something needs to change. Then we fail and we wonder: Do I not have willpower? Is there something wrong with me? Why can't I stick to a commitment?

But is it just us? No, most people fail to keep those resolutions.

The problem is not us. It's the way we go about making the change. Most people don't understand that there is a psychological process to changing.

There are six stages to change. The interesting part about it is that actually taking action doesn't happen until stage four.

We think that deciding on a change means doing something about it immediately. Wrong.

When we decide a change is necessary our brain, our psychological processes need time to get used to the idea.

For example, we are tired of our clothes being tight. We know we need to shed those pounds. We're thinking about it, contemplating. That's stage two, contemplation.

Stage one is pre-contemplation. We don't believe we have a problem. In this example we deny our clothes are tight. They must have shrunk in the dryer.

After contemplating for a while we start thinking how we're going to lose those extra pounds. Maybe start walking during lunch. There is that co-worker who suggested that a few weeks ago. Possibly start packing a lunch instead of hitting the local drive-thru.

Now we're putting together a plan. That's preparation. We have hit stage three.

Our brain will sit there for a little while and then we decide it's time. We have a plan and we are ready to go.

We pack that lunch. We walk with the co-worker. We have reached stage four. Action is happening.

Before we know it, we look forward to those lunchtime walks. Our clothes fit better and we feel better. It's a regular thing. That's stage five, maintenance.

Time goes by and we realize that walking is such an integral part of our lives. We don't even think about it anymore. The change is complete. That takes us to stage six, the termination stage. The change is permanent.

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