In the new year, many of us plan to adopt a new behaviour or abandon another. Such changes could be related to lifestyle such as adopting healthy eating, regular physical exercise or stopping smoking. These are called new year resolutions and many people make them at the beginning of the year as an attempt to motivate themselves to be a new version for the new year.
To understand how change works, psychologists developed the six stages of change that an individual goes through when he or she adopts a new behaviour. These stages vary from person to person according to willpower and the type of the behaviour to be changed.
These stages are:
At this stage, the individual has no intention to change as he may not be aware there is a problem, denies it or minimises its impact behaviour, like the smoker who convinced himself that the health warnings about the danger of smoking are exaggerated and that he can stop smoking any time he wants.
2. Contemplation, the stage of thinking about change:
This stage is also known as the postponement stage, as the individual understands his need for change, but he hesitates and thinks about things that discourage him from changing his behaviour.
3. Preparation during which the individual begins to gather information and develop a practical plan. If he wants to stick to regular exercising, for example, he would register in a gym and organise his time so that he can go regularly. This stage usually lasts for several weeks.
4. Action or implementation stage:
Here the individual begins to implement the plan and is committed to it and with time he is excited to achieve the results, this stage usually lasts for several months.
5. The stage of maintaining the new behaviour:
After a period of continuing in the implementation phase, the individual begins to think about how to maintain the new behaviour to become a part of his daily life. This stage is considered critical because if the individual does not adhere to the new behaviour, he may retreat from it and give in to temptations.
6. The final stage:
After a period, the individual adopts the new behaviour and becomes part of his or her daily routine. This stage requires a lot of commitment and not returning to the old behaviour.
Some psychologists add a stage of relapse where the person stops the new behaviour and goes back to his previous one, like the smoker who goes back to smoking or the person who adopts healthy eating then goes back to consuming unhealthy meals. This stage does not happen to everyone, yet it’s important to be aware of so one can slip into it and experience the frustration that comes with it.
Finally, whatever your new year resolutions, make sure that they are reasonable goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and can be achieved in the time period that you specify, be aware of the challenges that will face you and be ready to deal with them to achieve success, God willing.