The Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change describes how people can move through various phases when they undergo change in their lives.
The research behind the Model is dedicated to solving the problem of how people intentionally change their behaviour, with and without professional intervention. The following question was the foundation for this investigation;
Are there basic, common principles, or stages that commonly occur when people make a change?
The research showed that YES! There were indeed similar structures underlying behaviour change in general, and thus the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change (1983) was born.
The diagram above, the Exercise Motivation Change Cycle is an adaption of the original model.
The 8 Stages of the Exercise Motivation Change Cycle
Status quo - We are either unaware of needing to make a change or are in denial about needing to change. The later often refers to ‘the fear of being different being greater than the fear of staying the same’
Trigger event - An event occurs that kick-starts into contemplating change. This event could be a small thing, like a comment from another person, or a big thing like a health warning from a doctor.
Thinking about change - The - maybe I do, or maybe I don’t want to change stage. Experiencing ambivalence, aka sitting on the fence. At this stage you would be weighing up the pros and cons of change.
Deciding and preparing - The - I want things to be different stage, or the - I have decided it’s not worth changing stage. Either way after contemplating you have now made a decision to change, or not. If you have decided to change you will need to prepare.
Taking action - The - walking the walk stage. This is where we put our plans into action. It’s all systems go as we use initially high motivation to get things started. Alternatively you may get a shock, as you find actually doing it is harder than you thought.
Maintaining action - The - this is for real stage. This is where we start to see the light and realise that this change could be for real. At this stage we can either stick with it or exit having achieved change. Alternately it can be the stage where our initial motivation fades and we find ourselves questioning why we are changing in the first place.
Slipping back - The - phew! I can let my guard down a bit stage. This is a dangerous stage and often sees us reengaging in old behaviours. Often justifications and minimisation of behaviours occur at this stage, e.g. I’ve been going so well, I can afford to miss a workout.
Back to old ways - The - STUFF IT! Stage. This stage begins when the maintaining stage has been left to languish for a period of time and the previous stage, slipping back, has become dominant. We have now completed the cycle and are back to status quo.
Have a think about the above information in the context of changes you have made in the past or are making currently. Where do you fit?