I have successfully changed my habits in all of the key areas of my life. I have managed to push my destructive habits to the back of my mind, and create strong neural pathways associated with much more positive habits. I have managed this purely by using self-change techniques adopted through the power of literature.
“So how do I manage to change my habits when so many people fail?”
The answer to that question is one that I have pored over through countless hours. So far my answers lie in my six week habit change program called Lean Life; an evolution in my continual personal improvement.
In Changing for Good by James Prochaska, the professor of psychology and director of the Cancer Prevention Research Centre at the University of Rhode Island I learned to understand the how through a more scientific viewpoint. Prochaska, and his team, made me understand that I am in different stages of change in all of my habits. Understanding what stage I am in is crucial to the development of a particular habitual change.
The heart of Changing for Good is a change model that consists of six different stages.
Prochaska believes that we all fall into one of these stages when it comes to any form of change. Take my decision to stop smoking 12-years ago. That habitual change now lies in the termination stage because I no longer feel the need to smoke, I can be in and around smokers and have no temptation to smoke and I have been free from any form of anxiety or urge to smoke for 12-years.
When it comes to my gambling addiction I am still in the action stage of Prochaska’s model. It is an issue that I am still struggling to implement a fundamental change, and Changing for Good offers me advice on what forms of treatment I can focus on to push through the final two stages of maintenance and termination.
“The single most frequent reason cited for relapse to alcohol, food, or tobacco abuse is emotional distress; former smokers who drink double their chances of renewing their habit; and weight gain is one of the most frequently cited results of quitting smoking (and one of the primary reasons women give for returning to smoking).” – James Prochaska
The book helped to re-enforce my belief that for many self-changers, relapse is part of the process of recovery.
“Of the contemplators we followed for the two years, only 5% made it through the cycle of change without at least one setback.” – James Prochaska
Just like me, Prochaska believes, that it’s what happens when you relapse that is more important than the actual relapse itself.
“Action followed my relapse is far better than no action at all.” – James Prochaska
I actually believe that there are nine stages of change, but bow down to the hard work, due diligence and countless hours of data research that Prochaska and his team spent creating his model.
3. The Catalyst
9. Personal Continuous Improvement
You will notice hat I have added The Catalyst, Relapse and Personal Continuous Improvement to the mix. Prochaska may feel that the first two additional change steps are included in his model in both the action and maintenance phases, but my own personal experience with change feels the need to give them a stage of their own. The final stage – personal continuous improvement – is a stage I believe Prochaska is missing from his model and is a critical component for sustainable change as it reaches out from focus on a particular habit to your entire life.
If you are feeling the need to change a habit, or are just interested in learning why you drink, smoke or overeat, then this book is a good choice for you. For people who vow to help others to change their habits then this is a must have in your book collection.
I personally, found the book slow to begin with but it eventually grew on me. There was something about the way that it was written that didn’t sit well on my reading palate, but I’m glad that I persevered as I have learned a great deal from Prochaska and the work of his team.
Do you have a book recommendation for the NeedyHelper? Please share it if you do.