Route 6 to Behavior Change

The road to behavior change can seem long, difficult, and filled with unexpected challenges. Similar to how we can’t snap our fingers and be at our favorite vacation destination, behavior change is a journey that takes some time. As we take a look at the path of behavior change, think about what behavior you want to change or that you'd like to see in your workplace, and which of these 6 stages best describe your situation.

Precontemplation: In this stage, you may or may not be aware of unhealthy behaviors or the need to change. If you do recognize that you have an unhealthy behavior, you don’t have any intention of changing at this point. To move from this point to the next, you may benefit from considering the pros and cons of your behavior.

Remember, just because a behavior isn’t considered to be healthy, don’t discount parts of it that you consider to be beneficial. For example, smoking is an unhealthy behavior. However, many people who smoke enjoy it because they feel that it relieves their stress and provides some social bonding.

By making a list of pros and cons, you can determine if there are more negative aspects of your behavior which may propel you the next step in behavior change.

Contemplation: Here, you can see the benefits of changing your specific behavior. You plan to change within the next six months, but are not quite ready to change yet. In this stage, try to imagine the type of person you would be if you made the change. Try to imagine it in as much detail as possible. How do you feel? What are you doing? Who is with you? The more details you can incorporate into your vision, the easier it will be to motivate yourself to take the next step.

Preparation: As you move through this part of the behavior change journey, you make plans to change within the next 30 days. You take small steps to prepare yourself for the day you actually alter your behavior. This can include telling close friends or family that you intend to change so that they can provide social support.

Use this as a time to learn skills that will help you with your new behavior. For example, if you want to start exercising, this is the time to research which gym you want to be a member of. You might decide to get a personal trainer to design a workout plan. Start learning how to correctly perform new exercises.

Action: At this point, you are currently practicing your new behavior and staying motivated to keep working at it. It is important to brainstorm ways to keep yourself on track. Continuing with our exercising example, recruiting a buddy to workout with you and keep you accountable can provide extra motivation and make your new behavior more enjoyable.

Maintenance: You’re almost there! You’ve maintained your behavior change for at least 6 months. You are aware of barriers that may tempt you to go back to your unhealthy behaviors. You also recognize that there is a difference between a one-time slip and complete relapse. Rather than getting discouraged with a slip, you course correct and break down barriers.

Termination: Congratulations! Your behavior change is a complete success. You are no longer tempted to go back to the old, unhealthy behavior. The new behavior has become part of your lifestyle. If exercise is your new behavior, you feel comfortable with a wide range of exercises and can plan your own workouts. You are motivated to work out even if your exercise buddy decides to skip a day.

Now that we’ve mapped out the course for your behavior change, determine which part of the path you are on. Come up with a plan to keep moving toward the next step and eventually, your lifestyle will evolve into something you can be proud of.

Do you have employees that need help on their wellness journey? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.


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