Anyone who has ever made and broken a New Year’s resolution can appreciate the difficulty of behavior change. Making a lasting change in behavior is rarely a simple process and usually involves a substantial commitment of time, effort, and emotion.
How to Get Started With Changing Your Behavior
Whether you want to lose weight, stop smoking, or accomplish another goal, there is no single solution that works for everyone. You may have to try several different techniques, often through a process of trial-and-error, to achieve your goal.
It’s during this period that many people become discouraged and give up on their behavior change goals. The key to maintaining your goals is to try new techniques and find ways to stay motivated.
Change might not come easily, but psychologists have developed a number of ways to effectively help people change their behavior. Many of these techniques are used by therapists, physicians, and teachers. Researchers have also proposed theories to explain how change occurs. Understanding the elements of change, the stages of change, and ways to work through each stage can help you achieve your goals.
The Elements of Change
To succeed, you need to understand the three most important elements in changing a behavior:
- Readiness to change: Do you have the resources and knowledge to make a lasting change successfully?
- Barriers to change: Is there anything preventing you from changing?
- Expect relapse: What might trigger a return to a former behavior?
Stages of Change Model
One of the best-known approaches to change is known as the Stages of Change or Transtheoretical Model, which was introduced in the late 1970s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente who were studying ways to help people quit smoking. The Stages of Change Model has been found to be an effective aid in understanding how people go through a change in behavior.
In this model, change occurs gradually and relapses are an inevitable part of the process of making a lifelong change. People are often unwilling or resistant to change during the early stages, but they eventually develop a proactive and committed approach to changing a behavior.
This model demonstrates that change is rarely easy and often requires a gradual progression of small steps toward a larger goal.