The Stages of Change

This is a listing of the stages we go through as we make changes in our lives. It’s highly unscientific and not tested or guaranteed. It’s simply my random observations from life. I’m not sure they are always done in the same order, but I think they are all likely to happen in your life. Let me know if you relate, agree or disagree.

The Excitement Stage. You have a vision for what “could be” and how your life will look once the change has happened. You think of all the positive benefits and rewards of this change. You spend a lot of time dreaming and smiling about what will happen in the future.

The Jump-In Head First Stage. You are still soaring with the excitement of the previous stage, and you jump right in to your change without thinking. You don’t want to talk yourself out of this awesome change that is coming, so you start right away. You are gung-ho and no one can stop you!

Temporary Defeat HillThe Grief Stage. You start to realize some of the less positive aspects of your change. You will have to sacrifice some old favorites. The normal way you have always done things is no longer possible. You kind of wish you could go back to the “good old days” when life seemed simple.

The Research and Planning Stage. The steam is wearing off and so is your enthusiasm, but you aren’t ready to give up, so you do some more research and get a better plan. You are still excited, but reality has set in, so you know you need a better system and more accountability. Sometimes this stage comes before all the previous stages.

The Failure Stage. You crash and burn. Change seems impossible. Your head is full of negative thinking. You can only focus on what is going wrong.

The Learn From My Mistakes Stage. You realise you made a few mistakes, but you are not a complete failure. You figure out what went wrong and what went right in the previous stages, and you use this knowledge to regain some enthusiasm from the excitement stage to set some new and more realistic goals.

The Hard Work Stage. This stage lasts the longest. Probably longer than the others combines. You work hard. Every day. You keep “plugging away” and “plowing through” with “your nose to the grind,” and all those other cliches that signify hard work. You feel more even keel. There is not the high of The Excitement Stage, but there also is not the low of The Failure Stage.

The Results Stage. Victory! Your hard work pays off and you finally see some results. The change has been good, and you are not longer fighting so hard for the change, but letting it become a part of your natural rhythm.

The I Can’t Even Remember How I Used to Live Stage. One day, you realize The Hard Work Stage has paid off so well you hardly remember how life used to be. The thing that was once so hard has become part of your normal routine. You can’t imagine doing it any other way. Congratulations! You are now ready to move on to new goals and go through The Stages of Change life cycle again. 🙂

Can you think of some other stages? What stage are you currently in?


CoriCori is a wife, mom of three and random writer who is learning how to take small steps towards big goals. She tends to be an all-or-nothing kind of person, but a journey to learn how to run (something she always hated) has taught her a lot about gradual, slow change. She has a degree in journalism and enjoys doing research and writing.


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