The Five Stages of Change

Make positive adjustments in your life with the help of the five stages of change and Paradigm Health & Wellness.

Change isn’t a sudden choice. It‘s a process that happens over time and takes practice to master. And, it doesn’t happen by chance alone! Making positive adjustments in your life can be challenging, but these efforts pay off when you see improvements in your overall wellness.

The five stages of change can help you identify habits and behaviors that—if you remove or alter—can improve your overall wellness. These stages are:

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Making a positive change in your life can be difficult, but with these stages as a simple guide, you can live a healthier and fuller life. Let’s break it down!

What are the five stages of change?

The five stages of change make up an effective framework that lays out a series of steps to help you overcome negative habits and behaviors.

This process isn’t one simple action, but rather a structure of specific and guided stages to help you improve your health and well-being. Do you have any habits or behaviors that, if you could stop or alter them, would improve your life? Take your first step to a healthier life with this guide!


In the first stage, many people don’t realize they have a problem—or they’re in denial. When we’re confronted with the consequences of our behavior or habits, our first instinct may be to blame other factors like family, lifestyle, genetics, and more. We’re often unaware or ambivalent of the way our behavior affects us, or others around us.

Human beings are naturally resistant to change, and we often become defensive of our current habits. We push back against any pressure to alter our behavior and will avoid discussing our habits with others. People in the precontemplation stage are not ready to make a change.


Make positive adjustments in your life with the help of the five stages of change and Paradigm Health & Wellness.

Realizing a habit or behavior may be having a negative impact on your life is the next stage of change. In this stage, we begin to contemplate our problem and the possibility of altering our behavior. We’re likely still indifferent to change, but we’ve started weighing the pros and cons of a new direction. Although it’s easier to see the negative impacts of our behavior and the positive consequences of changing, we probably doubt the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term costs.

Contemplating a change can take days, weeks, years, or even a lifetime depending on how ingrained the habit is within your life. At this stage, it may be difficult to see how the work needed to overcome a bad habit will be worth the time and effort. For many, the thought to make a change stays simply that—a thought.


The decision to make a change is a huge step forward! However, it’s important to do your research before making the leap. The mistake many people make when trying to break a habit is to completely skip this step. It’s easy to just jump in with both feet and then become overwhelmed, which could make you stumble in your efforts. It’s key to prepare and make sure you understand how making this change will impact your life as a whole.

To be successful in the long term, be aware of the work it will take to get there and have a plan to reach your goal.  Compile and research techniques that will work best for you. Whether that’s seeking a counselor, entering a program, joining a gym, or any number of different programs and methods, finding small steps forward can make the transition easier and long-lasting.


Make positive adjustments in your life with the help of the five stages of change and Paradigm Health & Wellness.

The next stage of change is to take action with an improved behavior using the techniques and research you found in the previous stage. The effectiveness of this process will be determined by your individual willpower. When you take action, you’re showing that you have the personal strength and resilience to overcome the obstacles in your way and rid yourself of unwanted behavior!

For some, making a positive change can take as little as an hour, but for others, it can take years of practice and perseverance. Breaking a negative habit or behavior is no simple task. It’s okay to move backward and forward through each stage until you find a way that works best for you. Do not beat yourself up if you slip; instead, learn from your mistakes and move forward.


Once you break a habit, the temptation to return to that behavior doesn’t simply disappear. It will take work and focus to avoid a regression. If you begin to struggle and are tempted to return to your old ways, remind yourself of the progress you’ve made so far.

Finding methods and skills to avoid a slip is key to long-term success. Anticipating struggles and having ways to deal with difficult situations can prepare you. Practice your new techniques until they become second nature to you. The temptation to slide back into old behaviors is common, but with these new coping mechanisms, you can stay on track.

By deciding to spend the time to improve your life, you can achieve overall wellness and happiness in your life. Using the stages of change, you can identify negative habits and behaviors—and make adjustments that last!

Paradigm Health & Wellness is located in downtown Lafayette, Indiana. We offer a unique and strategic approach to employees’ mental health, physical wellness, and more. Learn more about our services and contact us today! Like us on Facebook, and follow us on LinkedIn!