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Planting Seeds For Change

minute read

Written by Liz Chamberlain on April 29, 2024

Springtime gives way to warmer, longer days and observing growth, color, and a fresh season all around us. We see more people outdoors and may feel inspired to consider changing our own routines. Approaching changes, however, can feel both exciting and overwhelming. We often underestimate the time and effort some changes take and can become easily discouraged when they don’t happen quickly or turn out the way we hope they will.

What if, instead, we planted seeds for change and took notice of our own readiness to make changes? When approaching change, it can be helpful to check in with ourselves to see where we are in the process of being ready to shift our habits and behaviors. Check in with yourself about past changes you have made – which ones were easy, and which were more difficult? Were there some that felt more forced because you weren’t ready to make them (and stick with)? Maybe there were some that started and stopped, or perhaps had some relapse to old habits even after making a change? These are all normal processes in approaching and making changes.

As you consider changes you would like to make, check in with yourself about where you might be using Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change1 model to help inform you:

Pre-contemplation – Do I need to make a change? Example – “My days are pretty good, I’m not sure if any improvements need to be made right now. Maybe I could exercise a little more or be more mindful of planning my meals.”

Contemplation – What are some reasons for making a change? Example - “I wonder if I would feel better and if my clothes would fit differently if I added more movement or changed my eating habits?”

Preparation – What would I have to do to make the change? Example – “I would like to start walking more daily and focus on bringing a salad with protein to work for lunch to see if it helps me feel better – how my energy level is and how my clothing feels.”

Action – How will I make these changes? Example – “I am now going to plan to take a walk for 20 minutes after dinner and prepare a salad with protein for lunch each morning to bring with me to work.” And “I am measuring my progress by tracking my movement in an app and am paying attention to monitoring how my clothes feel and my energy level after lunch.”

Maintenance – How will I continue to do these behaviors? How will they come automatically? Example – “I like walking every day after dinner and especially enjoy connecting with my friend who now walks with me; I feel more energy in the afternoon when I pack my salad and protein for lunch and feel good about having it already planned in the morning instead of searching for something to eat when noon comes.” And “My body really feels better with movement and mindful meal planning.”

Relapse– What will I do if I stop engaging in my changed behavior? How will I get back on track? Example – “I went on vacation and now it’s hard to get back to my evening walk and making my lunch – everyone falls off track sometimes! What did I do before that helped me get started in the first place? What would help reward me to start again?”

Check in with yourself about where you are as you plant seeds for changes you’d like to make this season and be willing to shift as needed!

1Prochaska, J. O., & Norcross, J. C. (2001). Stages of change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 38(4), 443–448. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-3204.38.4.443

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Liz Chamberlain, PhD