Behavior change is not as simple as many people might imagine. Breaking free from bad habits isn’t a matter of waking up one day, having a light bulb go on in your head and presto you’ve let go of all your bad habits. Research has found that there are five distinct steps to changing your behavior to achieve positive and lasting changes in your life.
According to the transtheoretical model, these stages are: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation for action, action and maintenance. People can oscillate between the different stages for several months or years before achieving a lasting change in their behavior. This model is frequently used by experts when advising clients with substance abuse problems. Let’s explore these steps in more detail…
At this stage, individuals are unaware that they have a problem and actively engage in risky behaviors such as excessive smoking, alcohol, drug use, gambling, or risky sexual practices. It’s important to remember that people engage in these risky behaviors for a reason.
Whether a person drinks to numb the grief of a broken marriage or snorts cocaine to get high and be accepted by their friends, these behaviors all have one thing in common. They work. In the short term, these behaviors provide immediate stress relief, can make you feel good, accepted, and like your life is trouble-free. In the long term, they can have devastating consequences, ruin lives and prove deadly.