Improve your lifestyle with knowledge of behavioural change

The stages of behavioural change
Have you ever tried to change something in your lifestyle? And did you succeed?

For example, did you want to eat healthier? Or exercise more often? Or kick a bad habit?

You set goals and really tried to change, but in the end you didn’t succeed. That must have been frustrating!

Don’t give up and try again! The knowledge of behavioural modification can help you change your behaviour permanently!

Stage 1 – denial

Scientists have found that people who go through certain stages to change their behaviour are more successful than those who don’t. That process is called the “Transtheoretical Model,” or more simply, the “stages of behavioural change.” Let’s take a look at these phases to help you make real changes in your lifestyle.

Meet Anna. She has a busy job and often feels tired and exhausted. One day her girlfriend asks if she wants to join a fitness walking group, Anna is not very keen on this and says she is too busy to exercise.

Anna is in phase 1 of the Transtheoretical Model, the stage of denial. To get out of this phase, something has to happen…. something that makes her think!

Stage 2 – awareness and consideration

One day Anna reads an article that makes her realise that some of her habits are really not healthy and that these habits could cause problems later in life. She begins to consider the pros and cons of changing her lifestyle. When her girlfriend now asks her to go for a walk, Anna says she will think about it. Anna is now in stage 2 – the stage of awareness and consideration.

Stage 3 – preparation

Anna thinks about whether or not to go walking. She also talks to her friends and colleagues about how a hiking program might fit into her schedule. She lists what she needs to change in order to do it and what benefits she can expect, such as better health, more energy and better stamina.

Anna prepares herself emotionally and mentally to really start changing her lifestyle. She feels increasingly confident and motivated as a result. She is now in Phase 3, the preparation stage, which is really going to help her change.

Stage 4 – action

Now that Anna is prepared and determined to change, she takes action by joining her girlfriend’s walking group. After a month, she notices that she has more energy and is less tired. Anna is in phase 4 – the Action Phase.

Stage 5 – maintenance

But then a very busy period arrives at her work. Anna no longer has time for walking and quits. She ends up in the Relapse phase. Fortunately, her trainer understands the challenges people face in the Action Phase and motivates Anna to join the walking group again anyway. Over time, walking is a regular part of Anna’s schedule, and she feels better than ever!

Six months later, we see Anna consistently maintaining her new lifestyle. She feels good physically, can handle daily stress better, and has more energy. Anna is in phase 5: the Persistence phase.  She feels supported in her new lifestyle by having friends and family involved in her walking group. This helps her avoid a relapse to her past behaviour patterns. 

Each stage of the behavioural change process brought new challenges. But when Anna saw for herself why it was important to change her lifestyle, she became motivated and succeeded in changing her behaviour permanently. Now she is happy with her healthier lifestyle and all the benefits that come with it. Congratulations Anna!

We all have habits we want or need to change. By using Behavioural Science to understand the change process, you will be more successful in changing your behaviour.