There are various ways to implement change in your life, but even if you are well-versed in how to do it, change can still be difficult particularly if you have an emotional attachment to the status quo. For example, you may dislike your job and imagine yourself doing something else for a living, but if you haven’t left the job emotionally, you may have difficulty actually making the change.
Typically, an individual needs to feel either that he or she has been pushed to the limit, or they feel so bored by their job that they can’t imagine themselves going to work one more day.
When someone feels pushed to the limit of their emotional endurance, they may be feeling anxiety, depression, anger, and/or resentment, among other uncomfortable feelings. They may find themselves being critical at work, either of their co-workers, or management.
When an individual is bored at work, they often find it difficult to put in 100 percent of effort in their job. They might start taking longer breaks and lunch hours. Or they work on their own personal business during work hours. The internet can be an awfully tempting distraction for someone who is bored with their job, or for someone who is trying to relieve their stress.
Sometimes desperation causes an individual to finally decide to change. The decision to change usually overrides the individual’s willingness to hang onto a negative job, lifestyle, or relationship.
A helpful method of understanding how to make change, is the five stages of change. This method of change was first developed approximately 20 years ago by researchers in the field of alcoholism, Dr. Carlo C. Di Clemente and J.O. Prochaska. Since then, this method has been adapted to a variety of therapies.
The first stage is Pre-Contemplation. At this point, an individual is not even considering change. He or she may have been told by others to make a change, but the individual doesn’t see the necessity for it yet.
The second stage is Contemplation. The individual has started thinking about making a change, but has no actual plans yet. Additionally, the person may feel very ambivalent about the subject and is unable to make a commitment to change yet.
The third stage is Preparation/Determination. The individual begins making plans to implement change in his or her life and feels a certain amount of commitment to the plan.
The fourth stage is Action. The individual has begun to take the steps to implement the desired change.
The fifth action is Maintenance. At this stage, the individual is actively maintaining the change in lifestyle, job, etc.
Sometimes an individual may return to a former behavior, i.e., relapse into addiction, begin isolating due to depression, or perhaps experience difficulties at work again. When this occurs, the individual has usually reverted back to pre-contemplation. In this case, it is helpful for the person to remember that the five stages are fluid. In other words, the person may have returned to a prior negative behavior or situation, but it is possible to change that by moving through the stages again, i.e., contemplation, preparation/determination, action, and maintenance.
It is also helpful to remember that it may take numerous attempts before someone is able to stick with the change they desire. Therefore, an individual may go through the stages of change many times before they are able to commit to the change in the long term. This model of change does not assign blame to someone who has difficulty sticking with their desired change. There are no judgments in this method which makes it easier to get back on track. As a result, the five stages of change are a natural and humanistic way of looking at people and how they change.