Exisle authors Dr Stephen McKenzie and Dr Craig Hassed explain the "Cycle of Change," the scientific 6 step process behind the changes and transformations that actually last:

The Cycle of Change

We often assume that changing a behaviour just happens. Well, it does, but generally it does after a whole process that’s has gone on before. Many experts agree that behaviour change takes place in a cycle with the following steps.

1. Pre-contemplation:

We haven’t even begun to think about it or recognise a need to change. Often it takes a shock or other event to bring it to our attention.

2. Contemplation:

We start thinking about the need to change. It’s important here to consider the things that really motivate us to change.

3. Preparation:

We begin to put in place the things we need to successfully change, such as informing others, noting the places or people we might need to avoid, getting the resources or equipment we might need.

4.Action:

We start out on the new behaviour. The early stages — generally a few weeks — are the most difficult as the new behaviour gets established. Our old patterns attempt to reassert themselves and others around us as well as ourselves might try to sabotage the new behaviour.

5. Maintenance:

Here the new behaviour is easier to maintain and the old habit isn’t asserting itself so hard. Complacency and adversity can be the main threats.

6. Relapse:

If it happens, then we learn from it and move on. Beating ourselves up is a good way to prolong the relapse.The most important thing is to pay attention and learn something from the experience.There is no failure, there’s only a learning opportunity taken or missed. As Thomas Edison is reported to have said, ‘I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving those 700 ways will not work.When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.’

It is important to appreciate from the outset that change takes time, but every time we make the effort it gets easier the next time as the brain slowly rewires itself for the new and,hopefully,healthier behaviour.As Shakespeare said:

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From "Mindfulness for Life" by Dr Stephen McKenzie and Dr Craig Hassed.