How to Achieve Self-Change

Self-change is hard things to achieve. We are not programmed to change our hardwired personality traits at will. However, with a little bit of time, commitment, and a lot of willpower and effort, it is possible to reprogram negative behavior and break bad habits. This is the reasoning behind the concept of self-change. Here is a concise guide on how to achieve self-change.

The First Step to Achieving Self-Change


Everyone has something (or a bunch of things) that they’d love to change about themselves. However, there is so much variety in the changes people want to make in life that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that will work for everyone.

The fact is you’re going to have to try out lots of different possible solutions, until you find something that works for your own unique situation. A lot of people struggle with this: when you keep trying out lots of things and nothing seems to work out, it is easy to give up after a few attempts.

According to psychologists, there are three main elements of change:

  • Readiness of change: do you have the knowledge you require to make lasting changes?

  • Barriers to change: what’s preventing you from making lasting changes?

  • Likelihood of relapse: how likely are you to go back to your old behavior?

These are the three things that will determine how successful you will be in making changes in your life.


The Transtheoretical Stages of Change Model – Self-Change Model

This model was developed in 1977 by James O. Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente at the University of Rhode Island. It demonstrates that actual change takes time, being made up of a series of small steps:


  1. Precontemplation: At this stage, you’re still not considering a change. It is characterized by denial and ignorance of the problem. If you are in this stage, you may feel like you have no control over your behavior and that there is nothing you can do to change your current state. You need to do an assessment of your current behavior, and analyze your actions so that you can start rethinking your behavior. What would have to happen to make you see that your behavior is a problem?

  2. Contemplation: At this stage, you have started becoming aware of the benefits of making a change. You have mixed feelings about taking the next steps and making a change, though, because the costs of making the change seem too heavy to pay. The contemplation stage is characterized by conflicted emotions. Start weighing the pros and cons of making the actual change. Then identify any potential barriers to making the change before confirming your readiness to change. What are some of the things you could do to make the change a reality?

  3. Preparation: This stage is characterized by experimentation with small changes as you prepare to make bigger changes later on. As you make these small changes, you are also collecting the information that you need to change. Things like joining smoking a little less every day or reading self-help books fall into this category. To push things to the next stage, write down your goals and prepare a plan of action. You can also find resources and support groups that can offer you some advice and encouragement to help you take the next leap.

  4. Action: This is the stage where you take a direct action towards achieving your goals. As you take positive actions towards achieving real change, be sure to reward your successes and congratulate yourself. Also, it is very important to seek out social support to help you maintain the positive steps.

  5. Maintenance: This stage is characterized by the active maintenance of the new behavior as well as avoiding temptation. Try to develop coping strategies to help deal with temptations that might make you relapse. Also, don’t forget to reward your successes and maintain your social support structure.

  6. Termination/Relapse: In any journey towards real change, relapses are common. They may result in feelings of disappointment, frustration, and failure. However, try not to let these setbacks get you down. Analyze the things that led to your relapse and try to figure out how you can avoid the triggers again in future. Recognize the barriers to your success and figure out how to deal with them. Then reaffirm your commitment to change and start again with better preparation and more determined action.

Final Thoughts


While people can change, you can’t just snap your fingers and completely alter your well-established patterns. This is true even when those patterns constantly result in bad consequences. Would it be nice if it were easier? Sure! But it isn’t. You have to put in a lot of work and consciously make the decision to change your behavior in order to achieve it.

If you have been struggling to make changes that last, these steps might help you finally keep your resolutions and make them stick. Good luck!

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