Dealing with a big change in life can be difficult, however there are effective coping strategies that can make the process easier.
As we go through life, we experience many changes that can involve our health, relationships, finances, career or where we live. Instead of being resistant to it, it’s more beneficial to accept that change is a part of life and learn to deal with it better.
The Stages of Change
In their book, Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward, authors James Prochaska, John Norcross and Carlo Diclemente share six stages we go through when dealing with change.
These stages are:
- Pre-contemplation — this usually involves denial and being resistant to a change. A person will tend to make up excuses or rationalise they don’t have a problem and there is no need to change.
- Contemplation — this is when a person first acknowledges they may have a problem and starts to seriously consider changing it. However, they may not be quite ready to make the change.
- Preparation — this is when a person has decided to make a change and starts going through the process of preparing themselves to do what will be required.
- Action — this is when a person will move forward based on their preparation. They start taking the steps required to make the change.
- Maintenance — this is where a person will work to consolidate or maintain the gains they have made from taking action. Their focus is to continue moving forward and prevent lapses back to old behaviours or patterns.
- Termination — this is where a person has achieved success, provided there hasn’t been any lapses or relapses. They now have a new self-image. If they have experienced a relapse, it’s an opportunity to recommit and learn from what they have experienced.
When dealing with change, it’s beneficial to keep these stages of change in mind, so we know where we’re at and what to expect in order to give ourselves the best chance of coping with it, and eventually succeeding.