Ready to make a change?

If you want to change jobs or change a habit, first take time for precontemplation and contemplation.

That’s the lesson I learned recently during a presentation about James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente’s Trans-theoretical Theory of Behavior Change.

Prochaska and DiClemente outline five steps to making changes.

Precontemplation—which involves becoming aware that you need to make a change. For example, you discover that the dress you want to wear to the wedding next month doesn’t fit. Or, you find out that your company is planning to lay off employees.

Contemplation—which involves seeking information. This step also often involves emotional responses. You might try on more clothes to make sure that the cleaners didn’t shrink that fancy dress you want to wear. Or, you talk to your boss who tells you that your are laid off, you check the balance in your savings account and you talk to your spouse.

Preparation—which involves building a plan or strategy. You start talking to other people and deciding what steps to take.

Action. You find people who will support you, and you reward yourself when you have taken positive steps toward achieving your goal.

Maintenance. You achieve your goal, but you do what it takes to maintain your success. For example, if you’ve lost weight, you keep eating healthy food so that you will keep those pounds off. Or, if you’ve found a new job, you work hard so that you will keep it.

Amy George, vice president of marketing & communications at Cooper Aerobics in Dallas,  talked about these steps for making changes recently at a meeting of the Dallas chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

–Joy

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