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Ready, Set, . . . Prepare!

The evening air is getting crisp in the upper midwest where I live. Maybe you’ve already started to switch out your summer clothes for your fall/winter wardrobe. But before you actually began to swap out your seasonal duds, you were thinking about and preparing to take action. Summer is over, and it’s time to consider what happens as we PREPARE for change.

Here's a quick reminder of The Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTCM) five stages of change:

  1. Precontemplation (I’m NOT ready for change.)

  2. Contemplation (I’m THINKING about maybe making a change.)

  3. Preparation (I’m GETTING READY to take some action. I will!)

  4. Action (I’m DOING it! I’m making a change.)

  5. Maintenance (I’m consistently maintaining the positive behavior change I made.)

Things start to get real when we’ve hit the preparation stage. If you’re in preparation, you’ve decided it’s time to take some action, and you plan to DO something within the next month.

You’re motivated to move forward!

Pre-work, including brainstorming and sorting through options, is a big part of preparation.

Maybe you’ve decided you’d like to work on your flexibility. Preparation might involve Googling various ways to get more limber. You might chat with a friend or a coach to explore options that have worked for others. Will you attend a yoga class? Will Pilates be a good choice? Are you more likely to exercise online at home by yourself? Or do you have greater success when you’re part of a class or tapping into an accountability buddy?

Perhaps the forced social isolation of COVID-19 and the possibility of it continuing in some fashion has drained you emotionally. You realize you need to DO something to stay emotionally healthy. What are your options? How have you connected with folks in the past? When do you feel energized and supported? If you can’t go back to your old “normal,” what pieces can you incorporate now or what new options can you try? What aspects of your faith need to be bolstered right now? Prayer life? Fellowship? Personal Bible study? Worship and praise?

Preparation is a stage to also think ahead about possible roadblocks. If you’re going to eat healthier, what (or who!) might negatively affect your progress? For instance, what foods could you clear out of your pantry and fridge? Which friends--or family members--will try to talk you into that extra glass of wine or order of fries? How will you say “no” and hold your ground?

It’s important to keep things real and consider small, doable steps to move forward and make progress.

Remember: progress, not perfection is the goal!

Considering different options and having a plan to work through new opportunities AND possible roadblocks helps us pause, ponder, and consider our next steps before we hit the inevitable bumps in our healthy road plan.

Preparation is key to practicing healthy changes in our next stage: ACTION!

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