One of the main reasons a person chooses to work with a coach is to reduce, change or eliminate an undesirable behaviour.
However, forcing a client into action when they are not ready can be a mistake and, in some instances, may cause them to regress. Sometimes, not taking action too soon may actually create better results for the client.
Coaches implement a variety of models, tools, formulae and processes individually and in combination while working with clients. As an example, The ‘Prochaska’ Method involves combining major processes of change (the ‘how’) with a six-step formula or stages (the ‘why’) that we all use for making a permanent change in our behavioural patterns. The combination of using processes and stages at the right time, and in the proper sequence, can dramatically improve the odds of a client making a permanent behavioural change.
After an incredible amount of research, James Prochaska determined that there are six stages that everyone goes through to create behavioural change within themselves. In his book, ‘Changing for Good’, he details a ‘revolutionary six-stage program for overcoming bad habits and moving your life positively forward’.
The stages are categorized as: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination. There are specific words or phrases that are used within each stage that give clues as to where a client is in their process.
Notice that ‘action’ is not the first stage. It doesn’t matter how many well-intentioned people within a client’s circle of influence suggest the client make changes. If the client is not at the action stage, forcing (or ‘encouraging’) at the wrong time, or in the wrong place, will make little difference in their behaviour. The client must evolve to the action stage of their own volition, in their own way and in their own time. The evolution may be very fast or painfully slow depending on each individual. Sometimes, the action level appears to be instantaneous, but it is rarely so under scrutiny.
So, how do you know what stage you are at?
When talking to others about a habit that either bothers you or them, what words or phrases do you use? Do you deny or resist using words such as “I can’t”? Perhaps you’re not quite ready to take ownership or responsibility but may recognize that there is an issue and say things like “I might”. If a person makes a public commitment to change, usually accompanied by “I will” they are almost ready to take action. In the action stage itself, which is the busiest and most focused, the person does things like: starts to modify their surroundings (remove all alcohol or sugary snacks from their home; not keep matches, lighters or cigarettes in their car or purse; increases their exercise level, etc.). They often start their sentences with ‘I am’.
Which stage are you at? Perhaps you have no idea but you would like to know. Contact a professional coach – they are trained to guide you.
Whether you would like to get in shape, lower your stress levels, eat better, stop smoking, manage a chronic health issue or deal with specific problem, a professional coach can help you.
There are many coaches available today – each with their own style, education, experience and unique personality. Find one that you are comfortable with, that you can confide in and trust. Ask about testimonials, credentials, rates and what results you can expect. A professional coach will do their best to answer your questions satisfactorily. Most coaches offer a short introductory session that allows an opportunity for both of you to determine if you are suited to work together toward a common goal.
Written by SUSAN CRUTCHER