• Denise Cartagena

Preparing for Change

If you haven’t read it yet, check out last week’s article, Why Change is So Important. Its aim is to reframe change and discuss why it’s important that we remain open to it, supporting the first stage of change, Precontemplation. This week’s article will start to introduce the how, in preparation of the second stage, contemplation. Even though change is scary because it takes us out of our comfort zones, it is inevitable. We can try to deny it, but sooner or later, we will be forced to deal with reality and decide to adapt to better fit our surroundings, or keep avoiding it, making it that much harder for our future selves.

To suggest being open to change is not to suggest that there is anything wrong with who you are and what is going on in your current situation. We all thrive and operate differently and can tolerate different amounts of life’s highs and lows. However, regardless of whether you are in the right place to create change or not, we can all benefit from increasing our knowledge of creating change. If we are able to remain open in good times and bad times, we will be prepared to take action when the day comes -- and it will.

So to give you some more information, there are six stages of change. This theory describes the way we experience creating and maintaining change. The stages are:

  1. Precontemplation - We are unaware and are not yet considering any change

  2. Contemplation - We are aware of potential change, but not committed to doing anything

  3. Determination - We commit to making a change and figure out how to do it

  4. Action - We take tangible steps to achieving our goal, but have not yet completed it

  5. Maintenance - We have completed initial goal and the new behavior replaces the old behavior OR →

  6. Relapse - We fall back into old patterns of behavior

It’s important to know that sustaining change is challenging and requires a conscious effort. There will be times when old behaviors get the better of us, and instead of maintaining the new behaviors, we relapse. However, relapsing doesn’t have to be a failure if we get back up and try again.

We should remain open to change because what may have worked well for us yesterday may not live up to our new standards today or the future standards we or our surroundings may require tomorrow.

For example, if you’re anything like I used to be, you might be struggling to “figure out what to do with your life”. To figure out your whole life at once is too overwhelming and unrealistic, and it’s probably easier to keep doing what you’re doing than to take the time and figure it out. Maybe you choose not to decide. If this resonates with where you are right now, please, take it from me. Stop putting it off. CHOOSING TO NOT MAKE A DECISION IS ULTIMATELY A DECISION. But don’t worry, let’s get through this together.

When you enter the stage of contemplation, you need to really think about what your options are. Now, don’t freak out, you don’t need to commit to anything yet. Just take a second or even a few days, etc., to identify the change you want to make. Examples include, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to figure out what I’m doing with my life *right now* (adjusting metric of success - meet me back here next week for more info on this)”. Really think about this potential change. Savor it. Understand why you want to make this change. Get connected to your motivation underneath the surface. The driving force behind your goal will allow commitment to come easily. Without it, relapse becomes an even stronger possibility.

Remember that it’s okay if you’re not ready to commit to anything, but when you are, connect to your emotions and motivation. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is so important about making this change?

  • How will your life be impacted if you create this change?

  • How will you feel in a year from now if you successfully made this change?

  • How will you feel in a year from now if you did not make this change?

  • What might you miss out on if you don’t make this change?

If you feel as though you are ready to move onto the next stage, Determination, download my free worksheet to get your goals in motion! If not, we’ll discuss it further next week!

Happy Growing & Best Wishes,


P. S. For more inspiring content, follow me on Instagram @holistichappinesscoaching :)