New year resolutions
Resolutions are a big part of every new year, with many people deciding they need to make lifestyle change.
Here in the ReachOut.com Cork office we’ve been discussing our own and decided we want to exercise more and get fit. There’s even been talk of running the Cork City Marathon…!!
After the Christmas break we’re full of optimism and confidence. But when it’s dark and cold outside and we’d rather sit and watch TV than go for a run, how do we keep motivated to actually get fit and train to run the marathon?
Stages of change
There is a psychological theory called the “stages of change” which may help us to not give up. This states that people go through five stages when trying to break a bad habit eg smoking; or develop a new good habit such as exercising. These are: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.
At this stage, you haven’t even begun to think about changing. You may not have recognised a problem or have tried to change so many times that you’ve given up. People at this stage are not yet ready or willing to change.
During this stage, you are thinking about changing, but feel unsure about it. You start to seek out information and consider the advantages and disadvantages of changing. It may take a long time to get through this stage and not everyone does.
If you consider the benefits of changing outweigh the losses, you may move on to the preparation stage. Now you make a commitment to change and start taking small steps as you become more motivated.
If you’re at this stage you should make a plan, set goals and decide how to you are going to achieve them. The important thing here is to be realistic with your goals.
The ReachOut.com Cork office are at this stage; we have set out a training route to run (walk?!) and a date and time to do it.
Here, you make the change. For us it will be going for that first run; it doesn’t matter how far or how long, just that we do it. Hopefully this is a good motivator and we’ll run longer the next time.
However, without properly thinking the action through and making a plan to keep going, the action stage could be short-lived, bringing you back to the pre-contemplation stage.
This stage involves integrating the new behaviour (in our case exercising) into your life until it becomes a habit. To keep motivated it’s good to keep reminding yourself of the progress you have made.
Relapse is included as a part of the stages. It’s important not to see this as failure. If you become discouraged and quit, the cycle can start again and you go back to either the pre-contemplation or contemplation stage. You can go through the cycle as many times as you need.
Most people go through these stages many times before they form a new habit.
Making the change
The “stages of change” are an indicator of our willingness and readiness to change our behaviour. We’ll probably quit many times and have to start over, but we can still achieve our goals if we keep at it. Drawing up a realistic action plan and take small steps will help keep us committed.
Wish us luck!!