Thinking about a change? Part 3: Making changes – you are in the action stage

Use your action plan to keep you on track to reach your goal.

Most of us have at least one thing we’d like to change about ourselves. One of the models used to help people make behavior change is the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change or Stages of Change. The first article in this series covered the contemplation stage, which is when you are thinking of making a change. The stage that follows is called preparation. You are in the preparation stage when you know you can change, and you create an action plan to help you reach your goal.

When you actually make changes, but it has been less than six months since you started making them, you are in the action stage. You start noticing how the changes make you feel, and you like it! Journaling can help you stick to your plan. Your journal will highlight your strengths and areas for improvement. You should also record how the changes make you feel, so you will continue doing what makes you feel successful and try something different when the change does not suit your lifestyle.

Most everyone will have some set-backs. Refer to the solutions to the barriers you listed. If you run out of solutions, look at other resources. Using the “eating better” goal as an example, the online MyPlate recipe book might not be one you thought of but it can add to your healthy recipe collection. If you run out of your own solutions, you can ask a friend or family member for suggestions. Remember to reward yourself as you accomplish your action plan by choosing rewards that help you reach your goal. For example, eating a high-calorie treat after each healthy meal might not be the best reward if your goal is to “eat better.” As an alternative, try rewarding yourself with a low-calorie treat like a popsicle made from 100 percent fruit juice. Save the high-calorie treats as once-in-awhile rewards.

There are numerous resources out there to help you tackle your set-backs and keep you on track. Michigan State University Extension has information on a wide variety of topics that will help you stay on track and move to the next Stage of Change: Maintenance.

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