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4 Stages of Personal Tranformation

Transformation is a process, a journey, not a one-time decision.

~David Kinnaman~

Personal transformation requires us to be ready to embark upon the journey with a growth-mindset. Carol Dweck, a noted researcher and professor at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success has discovered that “people with a  growth mindset who believe in challenging themselves through self-improvement and learning experiences, actually experience more success in life then people who believe their intelligence is fixed. People with a fixed mindset avoid putting themselves into situation in which they will be challenged and might fail, and they avoid learning goals.”
When was the last time that you deliberately engage any form of learning/training with a purpose of bringing about positive change in your life? Were you able to stick with the program and realize your desired results, or did you find yourself faced with “wanting to do the right thing but finding yourself doing just the opposite towards the change you wanted”? Were you mentally ready for the change?

Stages of Readiness

The article, Stages of Readiness for Change on the University of Minnesota website provides the six stages of change, identified by psychologist James O. Prochaska they are:


“People at this stage usually have no intention of changing their behavior, and typically deny having a problem. Although their friends, neighbors, doctors, or co-workers can see the problem quite clearly, the typical precontemplator can’t.” According to Prochaska, “Precontemplators are often demoralized and don’t want to think about their problem because they feel that the situation is hopeless.”


“I want to stop feeling so stuck. Those simple words are typical of contemplators. In the contemplation stage, people acknowledge that they have a problem and begin to think seriously about solving it. Contemplators struggle to understand their problem, see its causes, and begin to wonder about possible solutions. Prochaska states, “Many people in this stage have vague plans to make changes, they are often not ready to take action yet.” Sad but true, he says, “Many people remain in the contemplation stage for years.”


Most people in the preparation stage are planning to make changes within the next month. An important first step: making your intention public. Individuals in the preparation stage may appear committed to change, but according to Prochaska, “they still need to resolve their ambivalence. They still need to convince themselves that this is the best step. He stresses the importance of “having a firm, detailed scheme of action to carry you through.”

ActionThis is the stage in which you will begin to modify your behavior and environment to support your decision and preparation to achieve positive change in some aspect of your life. You begin to exercise 30 minutes a day, you cut off the television during dinner to reconnect with family members, or you get involved with a community agency that supports a cause that is dear to your heart.

This is the busiest stage and requires more time and energy. The changes that you will make during this stage will be visible to you and others. Prochaska reminds us, “It is important to realize that, while the action is the one that usually receives the most amount of recognition, it is not the only stage during which you can make progress toward overcoming your problem [or pursuing a goal].

MaintenanceThis stage is ongoing and critically important to the success of your transformation. Prochaska states, “Successful maintenance requires active alertness.” Think about the people you know who successful lost weight and because of a lack of attentiveness on their part, they relapsed into bad habits and gained the weight back.

TerminationIn this stage, we have achieved the goal of modifying our behavior for an extended period of time in which there is little concern for a relapse into past behavior. Maintaining active alertness for emotional and environment triggers will help us to be mindful of external factors that could sabotage our success.  As you participate in the Makeover My Attitude Challenge launching on this blog on October 16, 2012, consider the above stages of change as you embark on the journey and when you encounter inner obstacles to the change in your attitude that you desire.
It's Your Move ~ Aspire HigherReference: Prochaska, J.O., Norcross, J.C., Diclemente, C.C. (1994). Changing for Good. New York: Avon Books.   

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