Do you have an area of your life you’d like to improve? Have you started working towards it? I’m guessing the answer is either “No,” or “Not to the extent I’d like.”
If I were to ask you, “Why do you think you fail to change,” would you know the answer?
I’m guessing you might respond by telling me:
“I’m not motivated enough,”
“I don’t have enough willpower.”
Perhaps you’d say,
“It runs in my family,” or
“Yeah, I want that, but it’s just not for me.”
But what if I told you those answers are all wrong?
FUNDAMENTAL BEHAVIORS OF HEALTH
James Prochaska, PhD says in his book, Changing to Thrive, that there are four behaviors that are fundamental to our health: breathing, drinking, eating, and moving.
In functional medicine, we look at what we call pillars of wellness: food, sleep, stress transformation, movement, and relationships.
For each of these five pillars or foundations of wellness, we can identify both our readiness and our confidence to change.
Perhaps you’re great at getting in movement, but not as great at preparing nourishing meals. Maybe you’re great at preparing meals and engaging in movement, but having trouble making yourself go to bed (scrolling, anyone?).
Or maybe you’re not doing well at any of the above and want to make changes but aren’t sure where to start or are overwhelmed by the thought of starting at all.
Maybe you think you’re not interested in changing any part of your life–but if you’re truly not interested in any change whatsoever, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
By identifying your stage of change, it helps to 1. have grace for yourself for where you are, and 2. know what comes next to move toward greater readiness.
STAGES OF CHANGE
You see, it’s not actually about your willpower, or confidence, or genes, or motivation. It’s about knowing where you are in the stage of change for that specific behavior.
Let me say that again.
It’s not about willpower.
It’s not about motivation.
It’s about knowing where you are and starting from YOUR step 1. Not someone else’s step 1. Your step 1.
Prochaska identifies the stages of changes as:
Precontemplation – not ready; not interested in any change in the next six months.
Contemplation – getting ready; intending to take action in the next six months.
Preparation – ready; ready to take action in the next 30 days.
Action – have made the behavior change but for less than six months.
Maintenance – doing the new healthy behavior for more than six months.
Termination – confident with the change; not tempted to relapse.
In termination, you have reached the summit and achieved sustainable healthful change. GROWTH! Yes!
WHERE TO BEGIN
Now think about the areas of your life you’d like to improve. Pick one. What do you say to yourself about the new behavior you want to pursue?
Do you find yourself using “should” statements often? “I should do that, but …” You’re in contemplation. You know you want to make a change, but you might feel stuck wrestling with how to start. What would be one step you could take today?
Are you in preparation? Using “will” statements? “I will do that as soon as x, y, z happens.” Can you do x, y, or z today or this week so that you move closer to action?
Or are you in precontemplation? Not interested in making any change toward increased wellness? Fuller life fulfillment? If that’s the case, what if you just started to become curious about what a change might look like? How might your energy improve if you considered reducing sugar intake? Or stuck to a regular (and decent) bedtime? How would your relationships improve if you reduced screen/phone time?
Would you be willing to just be curious this week?
TAKING YOUR NEXT STEP
Make a note or a list today of what you’d like to see changed in your life in the areas we talked about: sleep, food, movement, stress transformation, and relationships. In what stage are you for each area? What is your readiness? How’s your confidence?
Pick the area in which you are most confident and most ready and start there. And then just do what’s next.
Need help figuring that out?
Schedule a free consultation to see how we might work together to help you explore the simplest way toward a fuller life for you. I’d be honor to help you get there.
Interested in further study? Check out James’ books here and here.
I’d love to hear where you’re finding yourself stuck, ready to change, or how you’ve made change in an area of your life. Let me know, will you?