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Stages of Change



Change is part of our everyday lives. Change is a normal process. It’s vital to our personal growth and spiritual development. At times we are open to change, and other times, we may even be absolutely resistant to change. According to leading psychologists like Dr. James Prochaska, to effectively change our habits and behavior involves asking the right questions. It also demands we go through a series of 5 predictable stages.

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

In this first stage you may not think you need to change. You are likely resistant, defiant or defensive to the idea. You may not even be aware that a problem exists.

If you find yourself in this stage, take a moment to review your completed Daniel Plan Essential Survey. Take some time to evaluate your satisfaction, feelings, risks and thoughts related to your present health and well-being. Ask yourself questions such as; “What would have to happen for me to consider changing this behavior?

Stage 2: Contemplation

In this second stage, you begin to recognize the need to change, but you’re just not quite ready. This is the stage where all the excuses march in.

If you find yourself in this stage, review your scores from The Daniel Plan Essential Survey.  Read The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life and gain inspiration from the various success stories throughout the book.  Evaluate the positive benefits of what your life would look like if you were to successfully change. Ask yourself, “If I were to change my behavior what would my health, fitness or life look like 5, 10 or 20 years from now? How would I feel? What would I look like? Write down all the potential benefits for you, your family and friends. Also think about potential negative consequences if you were to continue to live the same way you are living now without changing your behavior. Identify potential barriers you are dealing with and share with a friend or your group. Brainstorm potential solutions. Lastly, if you are not already in a Daniel Plan group, we’d highly recommend it.

Stage 3: Preparation

Here’s where you are ready to make plans to change. You’re tired of our own excuses and willing to do what it takes to get started.

If you find yourself in this stage, take a moment to review your Daniel Plan Essential Survey and identify the Essential you would most like to improve. Next, begin to set a personal contract with yourself and set your personal goals related to your Daniel Plan Essential. Research demonstrates sharing your start date with a friend increases your chances of succeeding exponentially! So consider making a list of all the personal benefits you’ll experience once you begin to perform your new healthy behavior.

Stage 4: Action

You now believe that you have the ability to change your behavior. You actively take steps to modify or change your behavior. For example, you may start walking, choosing healthier foods or quit smoking. This is a stage when you may depend on your own willpower, so staying connected to God for inspiration and friends for encouragement is crucial.

If you find yourself in this stage, one of the best strategies to keep you “doing what you are doing” is to involve yourself with a group of others who are like-minded and pursuing similar goals. Also, track your progress, using The Daniel Plan Journal and establish rewards and incentives congratulating yourself daily, weekly or monthly to help you continue to maintain your new behavior.

Stage 5: Maintenance

During the maintenance stage your initial goals have been achieved for at least six months. Here the goal is to preserve your new lifestyle. You continue to track your progress and stay focused on your goals. You like the new skin you’re in, and strive to stay here, reflecting on everything you have accomplished. This is your new normal.

Congratulations!  You are doing great.  Stay connected with your support system to help you avoid inevitable temptations to revert back to your old ways of living. As mentioned in the earlier stages, being a part of a Daniel Plan Group is one of the best ways to help you consistently choose healthy behaviors. Now that you are enjoying your new lifestyle, why not consider hosting a Daniel Plan Group yourself. This is an excellent strategy to not only help others reach their specific goals; it is one of the best ways to help support your ongoing efforts to live a Daniel Strong life.

Relapse/Setback

We have made changes, but slip back to pre-contemplation. Reflect on this as a set-up for a comeback. Think about why this happened, and what you would do differently next time. Embrace it as learning. Don’t invite in shame and guilt. Just get back to preparation and move forward.