6 Stages and 16 Tips for Developing Good Habits

Two psychologists and researchers, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, describe six stages people go through when making a change or developing a new, good habit.  This information offers hope—it validates that 21 days isn’t the norm.

Think of a new good habit you’d like to develop. With that it mind, read through each stage and the tips to move you from one stage to the next. 

1. Precontemplation: People in this stage haven't begun to think about change. They may not realize they have a problem, they may not know change is possible, or they may have given up hope. You might hear someone in this stage saying:

“This is just how I am.”

“I don't have a problem.”

“What's the point?”

Tips for this stage:

2. Contemplation: People in this stage are ready to acknowledge they have a problem; however, they’re unsure how to proceed. You might hear someone in this stage saying:

"I want to change, but I don't know how."

"I don't know if I'm ready yet."

"I feel stuck." 

Tips for this stage:

3. Preparation: In this stage, someone has made the decision to change, but hasn’t worked out all the details yet. You might hear someone in this stage saying:

"I'm not going to let this control me any longer."

"I'm going to do something about my problems."

"I know I can overcome this."

Tips for this stage:

Get support. Don't try to go it alone. Enlist the help of a friend, therapist, or even an online group. I just joined an e-course, The 100 Day Promise, that offers a supportive community and expert guidance from coach Sandy Amorim.  

You don't have to go in a straight line. More typically, they cycle through the stages of change several times. You may make significant progress while in the action stage, only to have stress set you back, leaving you in the contemplation stage once again. Remember, this is normal.

So what's the bottom line? Don't rush through the stages and don't worry if you recycle through the stages. Thankfully, slow and steady progress – even with a few set that sprinkled in – works just fine.


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