Stages of Change: What stage are you in?

Therapists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and others who study human behavior (parents, for example) actually know a great deal about how people move through major life changes. We move in stages. What is a major life change? We’re not talking deciding between the raspberry torte or bananas foster here.

Quitting smoking is a major life change. Quitting your job and moving to Montana is a major life change. Divorce is a major life change. Transforming your lifestyle from sedentary to active (a surefire way to lose weight) is a major life change. The transition from the active abuse of drugs or alcohol to addiction recovery is a major life change.

That thing in the back of your mind that you’ve been meaning to do for a long time, the one that you’re sure will make everything better, that is a major life change.

Here are the stages:

  • Pre-contemplation – Change, what change? I don’t need to change…
  • Contemplation – I think I might need to change. How can I change?
  • Preparation – I think I know what I want to do. Now I just need to do it….
  • Action – I am doing it!
  • Maintenance – I did it. Here’s how I make sure I keep doing it…
  • Termination – Alright. Done. What’s next?

Change is possible. But it’s not always easy. In fact, sometimes it seems impossible.

Knowing what stage you’re in makes it a lot easier to figure out what you need to do to move forward.

Stages of Change


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