Lasting personal change, changes in lifestyle habits
and practices, is the secret to ongoing
improved wellness in every important area of our lives:
physical, emotional, and spiritual. Lasting personal change
is an achievable goal. By carefully assessing what areas
of our lives need the most work (click here for a free
wellness assessment), identifying how ready we are to take
direct action towards making significant lifestyle changes
(see "Changing for Good" below), and then
following through by taking those action steps that will
help us achieve our goals (see "Processes of
Change" below), we can make the positive behavioral
adjustments that may radically alter our well-being.
(The following is adapted from Dr.
Michael Arloski’s summary of the work of Dr.’s J.
Prochaska, J. Norcross and C. DiClemente.)
Changing for Good
al, Stages of Change)
1. Precontemplation - no thought of changing, now
or later. Others who care about us may repeatedly urge us
to take action on our problem but at this stage, we are
deaf to their pleas.
2. Contemplation - thinking about changing, about
why one follows the bad habit, what its payoff is. Bring
both the rational mind and the emotions into play to move
yourself to a commitment to change.
3. Preparation - remove temptations, plan how
action will be taken, arrange support and understanding
from family, friends, perhaps a support group. Arrange
substitutes for the missed habit or activity or substance.
Beware of substituting a new problem (over-eating,
over-spending) for the old.
4. Action - the stage most of us picture, actual
practice of the new way of being.
5. Maintenance - Prochaska shows that many people
benefit from learning the difference between a lapse and a total relapse, (a
complete collapse back into the old way). Being prepared
to recognize a lapse and take immediate action can save
(Recycling - back to one of the previous
stages) Changing for Good shows that it is entirely
possible for a person to fail at one stage or another,
only to make a second or subsequent attempts that succeed.
6. Termination - depending on the desired change
and the person, total termination of the problem behavior
may not occur. Instead, there may be a lifetime of careful
maintenance. In other cases, the problem is conquered and
temptation to renew the poor behavior ceases. The authors
state that confidence that one has really succeeded peaks
after a year but that temptation continues for two or
Processes of Change
a. Increasing levels of awareness
b. Increasing levels of information
2. Social Liberation
a. New alternatives provided by external environment
b. Physical (non-smoking areas, better menus)
c. Organizational/social (advocacy groups)
3. Emotional Arousal
a. Dramatic release
c. From real-life events (relative with new cancer
diagnosis asks you to quit smoking)
d. From therapeutic process
e. From external stimuli such as films, etc.
a. Thoughtful and emotional reappraisal
b. Future self imagined
c. Examination of values conflicts
a. Acknowledgment of self-responsibility
b. Private commitment
c. Coach/Therapist commitment
d. Public commitment
a. Substituting healthy responses for unhealthy ones
c. Example: call a friend instead of isolating and
7. Environmental Control
a. Restructure environment for external change support
b. Reduce probability of problem-causing event to occur
a. Reinforcement of healthy behavior
c. Presents to self
d. Incentives (external, e.g. company prizes)
9. Helping Relationships
a. Enlisting or eliciting the support of others
b. Alliances – informal – friends, family
c. Alliances – formal – coach, therapist, clergy,
See Changing for Good (1992)
J. Prochaska, J. Norcross and C. DiClemente. New York.
William Morrow and Co. Inc.