Maintaining a behaviour change
Change is not a linear process - it is messy.
How many of us have reached a health goal we set only to slip back into old habits? (All hands up including mine)
The Transtheoretical Model of Change suggests that behaviour change involves moving between these stages:
Precontemplation - not engaged, with no intention of starting any health promoting behaviours.
Contemplation - not engaged but considering incorporating health-promoting behaviours into their life.
Preparedness - Seriously considering starting to change their behaviours. This could include researching options or connecting with some form of support (e.g. practitioner).
Action - Actively engaged in a health-promoting behaviour for 6 months.
Maintainance - Consistently engaged in a health-promoting behaviour beyond 6 months.
We could add a sixth stage, relapse, to this. This involves back-tracking to any point 1-5 above.
Depending on where an individual is at (e.g. motivation, resource) as well as environmental context factors (e.g.
One systematic review identified the following key themes relevant to maintaining behaviour change:
Motives - are you feeling satisfied with outcomes; enjoying the new behaviour; is the behaviour aligned with your identity, beliefs, values. Knowing your why is important. Getting to the root of 'why' you want to change helps you really get to the heart and depth of what you want.
Self-regulation - are you monitoring and regulating your behaviour (e.g. tracking and adapting when needed); do you have strategies to overcome barriers? Is your behaviour change EASY to implement?
Resource - do you have the psychological, emotional, and physical resources to maintain this behaviour?
Habit - has the behaviour become a habit; in other words, is it automatic and responsive to certain cues?
Environmental and Social - do you have a supportive environment and community around you?
Remember, behaviour change is not-linear and often messy. Life happens and we need to adapt. Remembering why you are doing what you are doing is important. Does it align with the holistically well person you want to become? Is it realistic?
Working with a coach or practitioner to help you through this can be valuable.