When I first started writing about stress management I naively thought that if I spelled out all the benefits of managing stress vs. the dangers of ignoring stress levels that, presto, the world would change -- just like that. I soon learned that change doesn't come easily.
One of the people who always understood that change wasn't easy is psychologist, James. O. Prochaska. Prochaska has studied smoking cessation for years and has come to some pretty interesting conclusions about how to get people motivated to change.
Most smokers, Prochaska contends, really do understand why they need to quit. Years of public service advertisements make it painfully clear to smokers what the consequences are going to be if they don't quit. So why don't they just do it?
What Prochaska discovered was that change happens in stages. Until Prochaska came along with his convincing studies of thousands of smokers, we all thought that behavioral change began (and ended) in what Prochaska has now identified as: "The Action Stage," the fourth step of his six stages of change.
So, now we know that one reason many wellness programs fail to even attract participants, is that they tend to start on this fourth step, instead of taking people through the whole change process, right from the first step. If behavioral change were viewed as a ladder, we'd be asking people to leap to the fourth rung of the ladder and skip the first three steps.
Stages of Change
If you feel like there are some steps missing in some of your wellness programs, be sure to read the next two blogs as we explore the stages of change in more detail.