Whether I am thinking about change for myself or on behalf of others, it has become a helpful practice for me to identify what stage of change we are in. My husband and I began talking about downsizing five years ago. We were NOT ready for a change, but we were willing to have a conversation about the what-if’s.
This stage of change is called pre-contemplation. Neither of us was particularly serious about downsizing, but it seemed that we were getting to an age where we should at least start the conversational ball rolling. We daydreamed and discussed, argued and agreed over various pros and cons of making a move.
We didn’t actually DO anything.
Our daughter is philosophically opposed to talking without doing, so she began to send us links to other homes with first floor master bedrooms. Some communities provided all the outside maintenance and lawn care – for a monthly fee of course. On Sunday afternoons we might go to an open house or sit around with our ipads looking at pictures on Zillow (eventually, fyi, you realize that everything looks better via picture than in person).
Fortunately, our daughter recognized that we were not ready for change. She did not grow frustrated with us over our lack of enthusiasm for putting our house on the market. However, her father, my husband became tired of our reindeer games and soon was unwilling to look at another picture, much less show up and traipse through another open house.
It’s super crucial for us to realize that when we are pre-contemplating, that’s all we’re up to. Even though very little doing and no actual change is involved in this initial first step toward change, it is an essential part of the change process. People rarely actually make change without first pre-contemplating!
Let’s make this personal. Are there issues in your own life that you are contemplating – but not ready to address? That’s ok! It’s where you are! But it might help your loved ones to be honest about where you are so that they can adjust their expectations accordingly. And, if you love and serve folks who need to make changes but who teach you that they are early in the change process – good to know! It SHOULD impact how you serve them. If you are working with folks who are pre-contemplating change, a listening ear is a wonderful gift. Someone driving them to distraction with actions plans isn’t quite as helpful!