Photo by KJohansson; Wikimedia Commons

Which of the following people is most likely to succeed in completing a marathon?

Person A believes that if you can walk somewhere, walking beats running hands-down, every single time. Person B can think of a million reasons why participating in a marathon would be a good idea, but he can think of an equal number of reasons why it would take too much effort.

Person C signed up for the race, but he hasn’t purchased his athletic shoes yet. He also hasn’t researched the type of terrain on which he will be running. So far, all of his running experience has been in his backyard. Person D signed up, did his homework, and faithfully executed an appropriate training run every morning for the past several months.

It’s fairly obvious that Person D has the best shot of crossing the finish line in the near future. We would describe him as being in the action stage of change with regard to the goal of completing a marathon. It doesn’t mean that Persons A, B, and C are failures. It doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually get there. It simply means that they are in different states of readiness for taking on this goal.

Before you embark on a journey of personal change, it is helpful to have a sense of your stage of change or state of readiness for change. The stages of change hold important clues about what resources are needed to create forward movement toward a goal.

If you know your stage of change, it will help you design appropriate self-challenges or change tasks. These change tasks allow you to focus your energy, optimize your problem-solving efforts, and avoid exerting yourself on actions that are not going to help you make progress.

In the next few weeks, stay tuned for my blog entries that will share more details about the stages of change.