6 Stages of Change, Which One Are You, and How I Overcame Them

Is change a process, an overnight phenomenon, or a little bit of both, depending on which Stage of Change you are in? More and more we see new fad diets and exercise programs promising immediate results. Why do some people stick to it and others fall off the wagon?

Individuality of course! But individuality can extend beyond your metabolism and into the domain of your will power, or more specifically:

Your chances of making a permanent lifestyle change can depend on the Stage of Change you are currently in.”

Let’s move through all 6 Stages of Change, from Pre-Contemplation to Termination, in this new short video. Which one are you in?

I experienced all 6 Stages of Change during my own healing process, and man did it get ugly for a while, especially when I got stuck at the Contemplation Stage, was overly ambitious at the Action Stage, and totally sabotaged myself during the Maintenance Stage (a.k.a Relapse).

Ignorance Is Bliss Until It Isn’t

Now, there isn’t exactly a Stage of Change called Ignorance, but that’s pretty much what the Pre-Contemplation Stage is all about. It’s nice while it lasts, but sooner or later the IGNORE part of the Ignorance catches up.

Signs and Symptoms of being stuck at IGNORE-ance:

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  • Saying “Oh that’s normal for me” in reference to daily headaches, IBS, allergies, etc
  • Always making excuses why you don’t have time to exercise
  • Forgetting what to write down or why you have a pen in your hand
  • “Just One More Syndrome” (i.e. coffee, sodas, alcohol, and sweets)


I was guilty of all 4 of these when I was swimming in the bliss of Ignorance. But these effects started snowballing and led to bigger problems that became too big to ignore.

Dreams Are Real Except When They’re Not

Oh yeah, those Contemplation and Preparation Stages are almost as blissful as Ignorance. I spent YEARS here when I thought I could out-think and out-learn my health issues. After all, reading about what to do is almost as sweet as living the changes vicariously through other people’s success stories and reality TV moments (i.e. The Biggest Loser). It’s as close as I could get to feeling the changes without actually doing the work or having to change myself. It’s like Phantom Actions… a do without doing that is not exactly what the Taoists had in mind.

Oh whatever, I need to educate myself on all the fad diets out there and do what the TV tells me to do. All of this reading, talking, and planning is hard work!” – Anonymous**

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Sure, go for it. Unless you have these Signs and Symptoms:

  • Own 3 or more diet books
  • Buy a magazine because of a latest “Diet Secret Revealed!”
  • If you have a tendency to say “Tomorrow” a lot and are not a fan of the musical Annie
  • Giving advice to your friends when you’re really just giving it to yourself

The Epic Battle Between Action and Maintenance

Taking action (not just for lunch, not just for today, and not just for this week) is one thing. But taking action and maintaining it without feeling entitled for a sugary reward is something else completely.
Veg Dessert JPGThe big Action Stage should be a time for celebration, but in reality, this was one of the darkest and self-defeating times for me because I was making these changes on my own, and I would often fall off the wagon.

Signs and Symptoms of the Action-Maintenance-Relapse Cycle:

  • Loving yourself for taking action
  • Hating yourself for cheating
  • Loving yourself for taking action
  • Hating yourself for cheating
  • Apply, rinse and repeat

Until I realized…

It’s Ok To Relapse… sometimes

There are two reasons for why relapse is ok and perfectly normal during the change process:

  1. Contrast is our best teacher
  2. Feeling free is better than feeling bondage

Both of these mindsets can inject life into and transform any change program into more of an open exploration rather than a constant “right/wrong” battle. The last thing any of us want to do is to change because we have to and not change because we fear we might fail.

Overcoming Change By Embracing Change

What I finally discovered is that there is no failure in any change program when I am honest enough with myself to own my actions and Change Together JPGopen-minded enough to accept every action as helpful information during my quest to better myself.

The only mistake that we can really commit is when we ignore our health issues and our snowballing problems.

Everything else is simply weaving a beautiful tapestry of your life experience… a story worth telling… a story that inspires.

What’s Your Change Story?

Please share your Change Story or which Stage of Change you feel most stuck in the comments below.

Here’s my story when I was still stuck in the Pre-Contemplation Stage: “And Then She Threw Away the Microwave…

** Anonymous has a 72% chance of buying the latest issue of People Magazine because it features a new one-size-fits-all diet secret.

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