Do you have that friend or relative that thinks all problems can be solved in 30min. as if life was a sitcom? I truly believe you can have a great financial life, but it's going to require some changes, and lifelong changes takes time. Permanent change takes persistence, and even some trial and error. You don't know which financial tool you like until you've taken a look and test drove a few. So yes trial and error. Don't get all wired out. Change isn't a bad word and it doesn't have to be painful and tiresome.
One reason change can be so challenging is there's no one size fit all model. Often we go into action without really understanding we can use a process.
Okay Nerd alert! There's a process called Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change developed by Prochaska & DiClimente. Basically there's 6 stages of change that can help you achieve lasting change.
image credit: Communications4Health
The Six Stages of Change
This theory is being used everywhere, from weight loss to substance abuse so why not use if for your financial life. The goal is to move from Pre Contemplation to Termination.
It's a great tool to use to understand where you are, because we're all human and you may have relapsed from one stage to a pervious stage. However you're still working as if you're in the previous stage and getting nowhere.
Click here to learn more about the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change
Here's a brief description of the stages:
- Pre contemplation
During this phase you really don't want to change. Some people call this the denial phase. It's not you, it's the folks around you. Some people in the phase feel as if things are hopeless. I see people who are in Pre Contemplation however they sign up for a class, then complain they got nothing out of the class. If you find yourself in Pre contemplation you may want to use this time to gather information. Perhaps it is best to work on a 'what if' strategy. Ask yourself what could I change to make things better?
During this phase you're thinking about change. People in this stage can see the benefits of making changes. Sometimes they feel conflicted; they want to change but there's something holding them back. If you find yourself in Contemplation you need to weigh the pros and the cons of making a change. Spend some time identifying obstacles to change. Once you've identified a problem you can solve it. The question to ask yourself here is why do I want to change? If you're not sure perhaps this isn't the change for you. You should also ask yourself is there something or someone who can help me make this change?
During this phase you have decided to make a change. Here's where people start making plans, they write down steps clarify goals and objectives. During the preparation stage, people gather resources and start to imagine exactly how they plan to proceed. If you find yourself in the preparation stage, make sure you have the information you need so feel comfortable about the change. Write down your goals and don't be shy about asking questions. Get all the support and cheerleaders you need.
During this stage, people start to take action toward their goals and are able to see the benefits. Maybe you started that savings account and see the money building up. In this stage "Action" does not mean all or nothing. It's okay to start off small so long as you have positive momentum. Give yourself enough time to accomplish your goals. If you find yourself in the action stage remember to reward yourself for positive progress. Let your cheerleaders know how you're doing so they can continue to encourage you.
During this stage you find that you've kept up with the change. You're actually maintain the new behavior and avoiding the old pitfalls. You find yourself speaking encouraging over your life. Success looks good and you can see the goal clearly. If you find yourself in maintenance stay focused. Old habits have a way of creeping in when you're over confident. If you find yourself avoiding old habits reward yourself; you got this! If you fail and relapse shake it off. It just means you're human; it's a minor setback. You already know how you got here so just duplicate it again.
During this phase you have actually adopted the change in your life. That's it.
In a perfect world there is no step called relapse, but we don't live in a perfect world. Sometimes people get over confident and oops they fall back a stage. This can sometimes cause feelings of disillusionment, failure and frustration. Don't let a minor setback undermine your confidence. Figure out how you got off track and as they say "Just put on your big boy pants and start over". Confirm your goals to make sure it's still what you want.
You can no longer say you don't know how to change. You have the "nerd alert" the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change outlined for you. Identify where you are in your process and apply the "if you find yourself here" suggestions. Remember change takes time so don't try and jam everything you have going on into this process. Some goals will be at different stages.
Can't wait to hear of your great success.
Wishing the best in all you do.