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Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1 (Precontemplation)

Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1 by @stronginsideout

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year when so many of us start fresh with resolutions and habits. But many of us find ourselves stuck. We want the change, but we keep hitting resistance over and over again while we watch others around us making the changes we wish we could make.

We chalk it up to lack of willpower or motivation, but we don’t understand it any deeper than that.

I’ve been doing tons of research for a new course I’m creating for SIO, and in it, I’ve been learning about change; specifically, what it takes to go from “can’t” to “can” to doing. There are sooo many theories around it, but the one that really got my attention is called The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change.

The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change

The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TM) was created by psychologist, James Prochaska, and health behavior researcher, Carlo C. DiClemente, PhD, and has been accepted by many in the mental health world as the stages of change (or resistance to it) that we all go through. They’re a bit tricky because unlike many other models proposed by the medical world, one progresses through this one in stops and starts; it’s not a linear progression.

One may find her/himself in any of these stages when it comes to change, and he/she may jump into any other one of them at any other time. It makes it a bit tricky to dissect change as a goal, right?

So what we’re going to do is visit only the stages that resist change, and break down how to best work through each of them so you can get to the doing!

Today, we’ll visit stage #1, Precontemplation, in the first of our 3-part series: “Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It.”

Let’s find out what we’re working with. Read through the description below and check yourself: are you in Precontemplation? Even if you’re not now, but resonate with it because you’ve hit it before, the recommendations below can help you the next time it comes up (and oh, it will).


Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1

This is the stage in which you first become aware that changing might be nice, but you don’t have the intention to do it. People may find themselves in this stage because of fear; maybe they’ve tried to change unsuccessfully before or maybe they just don’t know where to start. It could just be a lack of insight into one’s own issues; you might not know how harmful what you’re doing really is.

There are four types of Precontemplators (the “Four R’s”): reluctant, rebellious, resigned and rationalizing.

  • Reluctant Precontemplators are those who don’t want to consider making the change because they either don’t know enough to do so or they just don’t feel motivated enough.
  • Rebellious Precontemplators are the ones who resist taking orders from anyone else. No matter how much they hear from others how bad any kind of habit is, they’ll stick to it until they decide they’re ready to stop.
  • Resigned Precontemplators are the overwhelmed ones. They may have tried time and time again to change their ways, but failed and so they think that making the change is hopeless.
  • Rationalizing Precontemplators are the ones who are in denial. They can list off the reasons for why they don’t have a problem or that they’re fine doing what they do.

Get Doing

Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1

Resonate with any of the “Four R’s” above? Brilliant; this part’s for you…

To take the next step toward action, we’ve gotta rev up that motivational fire within. We’re going to look at each stage of Precontemplation below and talk about how to flip your specific set of Mental Optics to get ready for some major change. If you’re in this stage, check out which of the “Four R’s” you resonate with the most strongly below and you’ll find ways to realign your Mental Optics.

Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1 by @stronginsideoutIf you’re Reluctant:

Educate yourself. Look at the pros and cons of continuing your behavior. Write them out so you can actually see them in front of you. Afterwards, ask yourself if you’re willing to commit the rest of your life to being this way. It’s a no-bullshit question and tends to get people straight to the heart of the reality of the situation.

Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1 by @stronginsideoutIf you’re Rebellious:

Remind yourself that no one can ever make you do anything. Whatever you do is your choice. Period. That said, with some education and pro/con weighing, you may find that you want to change for the good of your own health. If that’s the case, one of my favorite mantras might come in handy: “I want to do this. I’ve chosen to do this. I’ve chosen to feel great about it.” Can you tell I’ve been a Rebellious Precontemplator before?

Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1 by @stronginsideoutIf you’re Resigned:

Remember that there’s more than one way to change your life. Just because you’ve found some ways that don’t work for you before doesn’t mean that none ever will. All those “failures” have greatly served you because they’ve helped you get closer to a way of changing that fits YOU. Remind yourself that you can do this, but it might look different than you expect it to.

Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1 by @stronginsideoutIf you’re Rationalizing:

Look at your behaviors and how they affect your life as objectively as you possibly can. It may help you to bring in someone you’re close to whom you can count on to tell you the raw truth of the matter. Does your behavior harm you in any way? Does your behavior keep you from achieving the life you want to live? Answer these prompts honestly, then objectively look at what you’re doing to yourself. Do you want to continue down that road?

For any Precontemplator:

Educating yourself and weighing both the pros and cons of continuing the behavior could help anyone in this stage. While this may require some tough love, I also recommend you meet yourself with kindness as well. No beating yourself up for not making the change sooner or “not being able to do it.” This is just the awakening. No judgments allowed.

One last thing…

The danger in reading about how we go about change is to overanalyze it or make assumptions about your self worth from it. The purpose of this series is neither of those things.

The purpose of this series is to educate you so that you can release resistance when the timing’s right.

Here’s what you’re not allowed to do when you read this series:

  • beat yourself up
  • tell yourself you can’t
  • decide that because you’re in one of these stages, you’re flawed

Every single one of us goes through these stages. It’s not a matter of choosing different. Sometimes it’s just a matter of your willingness levels, and those sometimes take kindness and patience to rise.

With that said, that’s it for the Precontemplation part of our programming. Make sure to come back next week to learn about Contemplation, or the stage in which one acknowledges there’s a need for a change, but is going back and forth about making it (this is probably the most common stage of change I see in my coaching practice!).

Until next week, have a great first few days of 2018!




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2 responses to “Going from Wanting to Change to DOING It: Part 1 (Precontemplation)”

  1. Kyle S. says:

    I’m definitely Resigned. After trying so many times and trying so many different things over so many years, it gets to the point where the only thing I’m accomplishing is further damage to my self-esteem with every failure. The only conclusion I can draw is that I’m not strong enough to change. I’m quite literally too afraid to try anymore. That’s the pathetic truth.

    • Amy says:

      I hear you, Kyle, but I also don’t agree. It sounds like you talk to yourself in a pretty cruel way which makes my heart hurt a little. You don’t deserve to be talked to like that, not even from yourself. I hope you’ll give the exercises in this post a shot and also start small; going too hard too fast is the most common tactic I see when it comes to change and it almost always results in failure. It could be really helpful to keep a wins journal, too – every night before you go to bed, write down one win from the day. We all have them even if it’s just “getting out of bed,” or “Drinking one extra glass of water.” I hope you’ll stick around in this community, Kyle. You’re worthy of support!

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