When you find yourself ready to make a change, be sure to slow down and prepare. Too often, people will skip this step after making a commitment to change and end up failing to achieve their goal.
People in the preparation stage have already weighed the pros and cons of making a change, and the pros are finally seeming to outweigh the cons. They are not feeling as ambivalent about change as they did in the preparation stage, but they are beginning to see that changing is not impossible. People who have committed to changing will often make statements such as:
- "Wow, my drinking is really bad, and it's affecting my family. I think I want to stop."
- "I think I can stop smoking. I have to stop smoking for my babies."
- "I want to change my diet so that I don't have a second stroke."
Crucial Step: "Set"
We all know the saying, "Ready, set, go!" It's a reminder for us to pause and prepare ourselves between the "ready" and the "go." Without taking time to go through the "set" part, the "go" part is bound to be less effective. As you go through the stages of change, be sure to set yourself up for success by doing ample planning and researching. To help someone or yourself in the preparation stage, consider doing the following:
- Research more information about your condition or behavior that you would like to change.
- What exactly do you want to change? How much do you want to change?
- If you want to quit smoking, what are the different ways to do so? Patch? Pills? Weaning naturally?
- Are there any classes or workshops you can attend to learn more?
- If you want to eat a diet to prevent exacerbating a heart condition, what does that diet consist of? Find out what a heart healthy diet consists of.
- Look up therapists and healthcare professionals such as myself, or even other friends and relatives who can guide and help you through the ups and downs as you work towards your goal.
- Create your SMART Goals. See my previous article, "Creating SMART Goals," for instructions.
- Come up with a way to track your progress so that you know when you have reached your goal.
- Create a chart, mark up a calendar, write it down in a little notebook you always keep with you, etc.
How does Lifestyle Therapy help?
As a lifestyle therapist, I will guide you through all of the above questions. We will work together to find a plan that works personally for you.
- I will provide education on the lifestyle behavior you want to change and what this change may entail for you individually.
- What are some barriers that you may encounter along the way?
- Where or who can you gather encouragement from when you need it?
- How much of a "diet change" do you need to make to prevent another stroke?
- How much of a "diet change" do you want to make?
- I will teach you to find reliable sources of information so that your own research is accurate and efficient.
- .com websites vs. .org websites.
- Which books or articles are reliable to read? How can you tell?
- I will collaborate with you to create your personalized SMART Goals, and teach you how to modify them as you progress.
- I will help you find a way to accurately keep track of your progress that is suited to you and your lifestyle.
Prochaska, JO. & DiClemente, CC. (2005). The transtheoretical approach. In: Norcross, JC; Goldfried, MR. (eds.) Handbook of psychotherapy integration. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 147–171. ISBN 0-19-516579-9.