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July 26th , 2016

Taking control: 6 stages of behavior changes


Serious personal changes go deeper than a proclaimed New Year's resolution at midnight. Many people wake up the next morning and run full speed ahead at the goal they set for themselves, only to run out of steam several months later. Longer lasting and deliberate changes comes in fairly predictable stages that can last from weeks to months, and even years. We will take a look at these 6 stages of behavior change, as described by Queensland Health, and explore the topics a little more. 

Pre-contemplative/ Unaware

This stage is the most common place to start. The main characteristics of this stage includes:

  • No motivation
  • Denial that there is even a problem
  • They see nothing wrong with actions or attitudes
  • They tend to avoid change


The second stage in changing behaviors is the contemplative stage. This stage is more thoughtful and includes:

  • Begins thinking about issues and attitudes
  • Thinks about possibly changing
  • Begins to think that maybe they need to change
  • Usually open to change and information about it 


The third stage of change is usually a turning point for a person. All the preparatory thinking has been done and action is beginning to take place:

  • The decision to change has been made
  • Steps  to change are being made
  • Research has been done 
  • Main information has been gathered 

Action/ Trying

The fourth stage is one that is more visible than any others. Characteristics include:

  • Living the 'new' life
  • Normally open to help and support of those around them when tempted to relapse/ backslide
  • Also called the 'willpower' stage


The fifth stage is a stage that many find is easier to accomplish. It includes:

  • No longer desiring the former life
  • Usually has coping strategies in place
  • Tracks and reminds self of progress
  • Reviews and updates goals

Termination/Advocacy/ Transcendence

This is the last stage and the last step in changing an attitude or behaviors. The main things that this stage includes are:

  • Acknowledging that old behaviors and ways of thinking would 'feel weird'
  • Former problems are not desirable
  • People in this stage start promoting advocacy to help others 
  • Relapse is possible but not seen as failure

These stages are pretty concrete and can occur in a predictable and linear pattern. As stated previously, however, it depends on the person on how long each stage takes. The end result is sure to produce a healthier and more involved person.