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While ringing in the New Year, many of us also resolve to make THIS the year that we finally realize our goals. Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves off the resolution wagon before January has ended. Every year people say they are going to exercise more, be healthier, quit smoking, get organized, lose weight, manage money, etc. By the time February rolls around, those ambitions have gone by the wayside. Well, FEAR NOT! Using some scientifically proven steps, lasting change is achievable.

Researchers have identified distinct stages of change that people who are able to achieve success progress through. The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) was developed in the late 1970’s by James O. Prochaska, PhD and Carlo C. DiClemente, PhD, when they contrasted the experiences of people who were able to quit smoking on their own, versus those who needed additional treatment. People quit smoking when they were ready to quit. The TTM operates on the assumption that people do not change behaviors quickly and decisively. Rather, change in behavior, especially habitual behavior, occurs continuously through a cyclical process.1

The Transtheoretical Model

  • Pre-contemplation: Someone may realize there is a problem and they may be thinking about changing it, but they have not yet made a commitment to do anything about it. People can be stuck in this phase for many years.
  • Contemplation: Someone plans to make some changes in the relatively near future. They have started to think about the good and bad things associated with making these changes.
  • Preparation: Someone is going to take action soon. They may start taking small steps toward the change.
  • Action: Someone has recently started making some changes in their behavior to make progress toward their goal.
  • Maintenance: Someone has been continuing with the behavior changes for a period of time and they plan to stick with them.
  • Termination: Someone no longer has any desire to revert back to their previous behaviors. Most people don’t get to this point, so it is often not part of many programs.

changePeople do not succeed in achieving their New Year’s resolutions or other goals because they are unaware of these stages. In addition to this, the professionals people seek for help, may also be unaware of what stage of change the someone is actually in. They assume since a person has come to them asking for help, that they are in the action phase, when this may not be accurate. Consider whether the stage of change that you are in right now is appropriate for the expectations you may have set on January 1st. If not, adjust your timeline and your goals accordingly.

So, if achieving your goal weight, exercising more, eating better, quitting smoking, managing finances, or whatever has slipped by the wayside, you can still be successful in 2017!

Author: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Washington County.

Sources:

Boston University School of Public Health http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories6.html

Research Gate https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285796052_Applying_the_Stages_of_Change

SAGE Journals http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.4278/ajhp.140627-QUAL-304

Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_162833.html

Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_162820.html

Harvard Business School http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5-new-year-s-resolutions-you-can-keep-with-the-help-of-behavioral-science-research

Case Western Reserve University http://www.centerforebp.case.edu/stories/stages-of-change-co-creator-carlo-diclemente-discusses-practical-applications-of-his-transtheoretical-model-for-health-wellness-and-recovery

University of California, San Francisco https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2016/12/405201/scientific-reasons-keeping-your-new-years-resolutions

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/behavior.htm

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