Stages of Change (Living the MOJO)

The brain was built for change. So why is it so hard for us to actually do it? Why do we fight change? Why do we make it harder than it has to be? John Maxwell once said:

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

Think about that for a moment. Vey powerful statement. Change happens regardless of whether we want it to or not. What we do with it or to it matters most.

Take pain for example. Anat Baniel says that

Pain is a request for change.


’ Your body/brain is asking you to do something different. Pain is a motivator. Pain is an awareness signal. I think pain is a request to move differently and better. By better I mean how, when, where, what, and why we move. What we move towards or away from. In other words, movement is ACTION!

What actions are you taking? And if you take them, will you stick with them? Taking the first step is important for sure, but you wont get anywhere unless you add more steps. Gain momentum and the brain/body will do the rest.

I was reading Headstrong Performance by my dearest friend Marcel Daane and he talks about the…

‘Transtheoretical Stages of Change.’

A really cool process of change developed by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente. When you see the stages below, they may seem like simple common sense…well, that’s because they are! However, we tend to overlook the simple and take it for granted. Simple is where the mojo is! Truly understand these steps and you take back control of your life. This transcends into every aspect of your life, but I am going to look at it from a movement and pain perspective. Movement is habit and habit is behavior. If you want to change movement you must change behavior. It just so happens that most health/pain syndromes are lifestyle related and that comes down to behavior too.

***Here they are…

Pre-contemplation stage, there’s no awareness of the need to change. Basically, you don’t know what you don’t know. Your perspective is not on your movement, because you don’t have pain…YET! ‘Why do I need to move differently? There is nothing wrong with me. I feel fine, so I obviously move fine.’ Not so much.

Contemplation stage is the recognition of the need to change, but without a commitment to meaningful action. Pain suddenly hits and I can’t move the same! ‘Ouch! my back hurts. Perhaps I should change what I am doing? Nah, it will go away. Let me wait and see what happens. Maybe pop a few pills and put some ice on it. Let me just rest and not move as much.’ There are plans for a longterm change in lifestyle. People often blame the event that causes the pain and not the culmination of how they have moved up to that point. My back ‘went out’ when I bent over to pick up a box. They forget about the thousands of other times they picked up a box with poor efficency. In this stage, the brain is trying to sort out whether the benefits of behavior change are worth the effort, and if they outweigh the payoffs of not changing behavior. Basically, the brain is asking, ‘how painful is this really?’ What happens if I just don’t do anything?

Preparation stage happens when the pain keeps coming back or does not subside. It’s not going away and is negatively impacting my quality of life. Emotional attachment is linked to the act of not acting! A commitment to change in behavior is accompanied by preparation for action. ‘I am going to make an appointment to see the doctor. I am going to start stretching to help me feel better.’ You take some steps to intervene in the painful process.

Action stage is where you actually change behavior. You go to the doctor. You begin to move with more awareness. You are working with a movement specialist or therapist to help you feel closer to your body environment. You begin engaging in healthier behaviors. You are now temporarily committed to a better lifestyle. Many people don’t reach this stage, they are forever in a perpetual state of planning. They make all the plans and cannot pull the trigger. ‘I will start tomorrow. It’s actually little better today, so I am going to wait and see.’ Reversal in the stages often happens here.

Maintenance stage is where changes are reinforced and sustained. This is the linchpin stage in long term behavioral change. Sadly, the majority of people who make a conscious change in behavior rarely sustain it if they cannot embrace the change internally. It does not ross over into subconscious programming. External motivation will only go so far. This is the stage where a new habit is grooved into the brain. When a new behavior is repeated and reinforced positively, it’s more likely to become the new normal.

Putting it into practice:

  1. There is no such thing as perfect movement. However, there is always better movement. Focus on small movement changes. Move better and then move often. Recognize tightness, stiffness, fatigue, decreased mobility, and stress as pre-contemplation signs. They are common symptoms, but not normal ones.
  2. When you have pain…LISTEN. Your brain is telling you something.
  3. Slow and steady wins the race. We want everything instantly. It’s a Twitter world. Give it to me fast. Well, it doesn’t work that way in the body brain world. Pain is the last thing to hit you, not the first. It took time to get it, it’s gonna take time to eliminate it.
  4. DO something everyday that gets you closer to your purpose. The purpose is no pain and movement longevity. Ask yourself, ‘Is what I am about to do taking me closer to or further from my purpose?’ Choose wisely!
  5. Never stop moving. When that happens you are dead. So don’t be dead!

The brain was built for change. Yet it tends to resist change, unless you convince it that the idea/change you have is worth the effort. If you convince the brain, stick with it and form new neural pathways to the life you want and deserve. It takes time to groove a new path. Your body wants you to succeed! Work with it, not against it. Don’t ever give in! Harness the MOJO.

Until next time…move smarter. move better feel great. And live with MOJO!