January 2015 – Knowing Your Change Stage

This is a time of year where many of us review the last year and look at making some changes.  I have found most people either love or hate New Year’s resolutions.  A Harris Poll list these as the top five most common resolutions.

1. Lose weight
2. Improve financial budgeting
3. Exercise more
4. Get a new or better job
5. Eat healthfully

Studies do show that people who make resolutions have better success.  In my coaching experience I see the people that have S.M.A.R.T goals make more progress.  More on how to set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time bound goals next month.  Before you set goals assess your stage of change.

We may go through five different stages of change.  Using exercise more as an example, in Pre-contemplation stage, exercise is not on your radar.  Or you may think I don’t have time to exercise, all people who workout are obsessive.  Contemplation in this stage you start to think you maybe should exercise.  The thought process might go I know I should workout but I will wait until I am working less hours, the kids are older or I have money to join a gym.  Preparation is a stage where you start to take some steps toward exercise.  You check costs of classes or a gym.  You start talking to friends or family about working out.  You might buy shoes or even some equipment.   Action is is where you start working out.  In this stage there might not be consistency in the days you exercise.  Also you might go to the gym for two weeks then take two weeks off before start up again.  Maintenance you are there, in this stage exercise is consistent.  You have made it a priority and if something prevents you from working out you are anxious to get back to it as soon as you can.  In this stage you have your exercise groove going strong.  You keep to days you want to work out, the duration and the mode of your workout.  You might still make changes to your routine but you have an exercise habit.

Most people go through these stages in order and can revert back to prior stages.  If something prevents you from working out for a long time you might go back to contemplation.  In my coaching where I see people not spending enough time is preparation.  If you are making a resolution start small and look at what you need to change to make it work.  Assess your barriers and take some extra time to create a game plan that works for you.  Don’t let your goals be like fireworks that are too big and only last for a short time.