How to Break the Cycle: 6 Stages for Changed Behavior and Achieved Goals

One of the most difficult challenges of sticking to your goals personally and professionally is changing your behavior. Goals like improving your health, reaching a milestone, or revising daily routines aren’t easy. In fact, studies show that our brains don’t like change, are wired for laziness, and have a limited capacity. Ouch! And we often fail because we don’t practice the correct steps.

As with any process, there’s an order to follow. For example, when administering first aid, it’s vital to work sequentially. Before caring for an injured or ill person, you should call for help. Then you check for breathing and a pulse to determine if CPR is needed. Next, if a wound is present, you must attempt to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens before trying to stop bleeding.

Or let’s say you’re painting a room in your house. Obviously, you need to choose your paint color (will it be Arizona Dust? Blissful Blue? Soft Candlelight? Gallery Gray?) and purchase the proper amount. You should then prep the area. You’ll likely move furniture, tape off the trim, and cover the floor with a drop cloth. After all, you wouldn’t want to open that fresh can of paint on unprotected carpet! Putting in the time for preparation saves you a big headache (and extensive clean-up) later on.

Likewise, there are steps to changing behavior in order to successfully reach your goals. Let’s take a closer look at what’s required.

Awareness in Changing Your Behavior

To make any significant changes, you’ll first want to understand what’s going on in your brain when trying to stick with your goals. There are six possible stages that you’ll go through:

  1. Pre-contemplation. At this point, you’re not interested in making any changes. In fact, you don’t consider your actions as problematic or lacking, and you’ll likely continue in your normal everyday behavior. You’d probably feel defensive if someone approached you and suggested change.
  2. Contemplation. By now, you’ve contemplated, or thought about, making changes. You’re open to suggestions but a bit ambivalent. And you may not be entirely sure that you want to move forward. Often, this stage lasts the longest because spurring yourself to action can feel like an overwhelming battle.
  3. Preparation. Here, you’ve committed to change. You’re researching resources and strategies to be successful. You’re preparing to move forward with changes. You actually take the needed steps to reach your goal. I should point out that many people try to skip this stage and go straight to action, but they’ll often fail because they lack the required knowledge for success. Lesson learned—do your preparation.
  4. Action. This is where the action happens…your behavior changes with focused effort. Transformation occurs at this stage, and while it can feel a bit stressful, it’s also an exciting, motivating time that opens new doors. You’ll exercise the proper restraint and willpower needed to move toward your goal. And remember—action breeds motivation to keep going. Unfortunately, this is often the shortest stage because slips are possible depending on your motivation.
  5. Maintenance. Maintaining means you’re dedicated to staying on track, but the truth is, this stage is challenging. You had good intentions when you started, but the focus on meeting your goals has lessened in intensity. So this is also the stage where you’re most likely to relapse even though you know what you’re striving for is meaningful and worthwhile.
  6. Relapse. At the last step, maintenance is over. You’ve lost the battle. You could call this the fall from grace. You’ve not successfully followed through, so you’ll want to identify the trigger that caused your relapse, and possibly start again if you want to reach your next level of success.

By recognizing where you are in the change process, you’ll be better equipped to alter your behavior and reach your goals. Honestly examine the six stages above and evaluate your current condition. After all, as Louise Hay, best-selling author, speaker, model, and actress said, “If we want to change our reality, then it’s time for us to change our minds”.

Once you know which stage you’re in and which one is likely to give you the most trouble, you’re more prepared to stick with your goals. My advice, more than anything, is to take the time to invest in yourself. Surround yourself with motivators. And beyond that, don’t let falling off track discourage you. Pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, and get back in the game.

Once you’ve determined where your mentality is getting stuck, you can then pick up the proper goal setting steps. By doing so, you’ll be headed in the direction of reaching your dreams.

Do you feel like your business has plateaued or you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? Could it use a shot in the arm to make even more progress on your goals? Consider working with The Accountability Coach. I’m here to help you accelerate your results, so you can enjoy your ideal business and ideal life! Reach out today for your complimentary consultation.

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