top of page

How Do You Change Anyway?

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

So, how do you explain the concept of change? I love the Transtheoretical Model of Change

Level 1: Pre-contemplation

  • The idea has not yet been taken seriously. We either have never thought about the change organically, have discarded the idea, or have had someone in our lives point out the need for change, but have not yet accepted it, nor seriously considered what life would look like with change. 

  • This is where excuses are prominent. “I have to do this because…”, “I can’t cut this out of my life because…”. 

  • Compromise is not part of the equation, and consequences are often unclear in our minds. 

  • For the people around us, this is the most frustrating part of change. They feel ignored, unimportant, and like an outcast. Contrary to a common misconception it’s relapse that’s hardest on our loved ones. 

Level 2: Contemplation

  • Habits form without our permission. That doesn’t absolve us of responsibility. 

  • When current realities are challenged. Misconceptions are identified. Concerns are addressed.

  • Goes from a want to a need. “I want to lose weight” holds differently than “I need to lose weight or my health will prevent me from xyz.” 

  • Where we realize we need to change or the current reality will change and not for the better. Understands consequences.

  • Start thinking about what life would look like if change happened. 

  • Start talking about compromises.

  • To succeed, we need a keystone habit that creates our culture and environment – such as a family member to keep you accountable – to help find the strength to overcome obstacles. It’s uncomfortable to admit when you’re wrong, but their help is free, and you need it. Swallow your pride and let them in. Dare Greatly and be vulnerable. 

Level 3: Preparation

  • You make the hard decision to change. There’s no going back. The only way is forward. 

  •  Develop realistic goals with a timeline for change to be fair to everyone. 

  • To create a new habit, put together a cue, a routine, and a reward, then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.

  • You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it by using the same cue, provide the same reward, but change the routine.

  • Positive reinforcement.

  • All about your motivating belief. If the environment changes, change the need that drives you. Belief is necessary for change. Start small.  

Level 4: Action

  • You start the plan. 

  • Obstacles start popping up making it feel hopeless. You haven’t even started, but your compromises are already changing and feeling like too much. Can you do it? Feelings of doubt. 

  • Many often relapse at this point. How does your loved one react? Usually not well. It looks like you tried for a little while then gave up. You’ve done that before, it makes sense that they feel that way. Prove them wrong. Show them that this time is different. You can do it. 

  • Learning helps motivate. Try to keep the consequences of Change vs No Change up front in your mind by continuing to educate yourself about the topic. Try googling things that are applicable, examples could be “Benefits of stopping smoking.” If you know what your lungs are doing as they clean themselves out after you quit, you’re less likely to pick up the habit again. 

  • Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. The brain will make almost any routine into a habit because it allows our minds to ramp down more often. Make sure your habits are healthy. Replace bad ones. 

Level 5: Maintenance

  • Where you continue the cycle in order to stay in motion. If you’re a dung beetle pushing your shit up the hill, and you stop, that shit’s gonna roll right back down. 

  • Effort is sexy. Even if the people in your life don’t see the change right away, keep going. They will notice you trying and it will earn you more chances to fuck it up. You will fuck it up. Don’t try to delude yourself into thinking you won’t. We all do. 

  • Positive reinforcement. Either reinforce yourself or ask the loved one who has committed to helping you change for reinforcements. 

  • Those around us start noticing changes. 


  • Inevitable. People aren’t designed to learn something the first time they do it. If they can, they’re naturally inclined in that area and don’t require this blog post about change in the first place. 

  • If you change the way you see relapse as part of the process, rather than a failure, relapses are less likely to keep you down. “Get back on the wagon.” “Jump back on the Merry-go-Round.” 

  • No one was born with habits. They are all formed, just not always with our permission. 

  • Effort is sexy!!!

Counselor's Suggested Reading List for Change

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Funds go to furthering the reach of Mental Health.


Related Posts

See All

1 Comment

aimee bell
aimee bell
Jan 10, 2023

I love this, stages 1-3 so simple... 4 and 5 hardest. Maintaining that pace and goal is so hard, but rewarding :) Great post.

bottom of page