Completing Your Degree Using the Stages of Change Model


As Lao-tzu said in 604 BC, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” While this might be true, research suggests that after that step, there are stages of change individuals go through to achieve their goals.  In this newsletter, I present a stages of change model that can be applied to any change you may want to make.  One big journey is completing graduate school.

Prochaska and DiClemente (1977) developed a model of change that, while applied to stress management, depression, and smoking cessation, I believe can apply to any change that we seek.  The model describes five stages: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance.

  • In Stage I, Pre-contemplation, individuals are not considering change or exploring any changes for the next few months. In this stage individuals should be mindful of their current decision not to change their behavior (at least their thinking about it).
  • In Stage II, Contemplation, individuals may be ambivalent about the change, they lack readiness, yet seek change within a 6 month period.  In this stage, individuals are getting ready to change and are aware of the pros and cons of the change.
  • In Stage III, Preparation, individuals experiment with change, seek to act in a month, and make social commitments to change. In this stage individuals get social support and imagine themselves with the change.
  • In Stage IV, Action, individuals are practicing the new behavior for 3-6 months, and they prepare to fight urges to regress into old patterns of behavior. In this stage, individuals can substitute new behaviors for old ones, and they stay away from unhealthy people.
  • In Stage V, Maintenance, individuals sustain behavior for 6 months and seek to reinforce their new behavior. Individuals are aware of temptations get support from people they trust, and reinforce their new behaviors.

How does this model apply to graduate school completion?  You may have procrastinated with writing a literature review, or held off on getting statistical consultants.  What stage are you in now?  How can you move to the next stage and get your needs met?  I invite you to apply this thinking (and the techniques to get you to the next level) to any endeavor you choose, from personal, relationships, academic, and career.

To a better you and goal competition in 2012!

Statistics Solutions Team

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