Photo by Carschten; Wikimedia Commons

This post is the third in a series examining the “stages of change,” or the stages that mark your readiness to transform a habit.

Last week, I presented the first stage of change (precontemplation). This week, I introduce stage two, which is called contemplation. It is when a person feels strongly pulled in two different directions. On the one hand, he can name several of the potential benefits of change. On the other hand, he is acutely aware of the costs associated with change. In this stage, procrastination and feelings of ambivalence are common.

Imagine a man who is thinking about getting rid of his cable service as a way to cut down on monthly expenses. He makes a list of reasons why this is a good idea: (1) he’d have more money to put in his savings; (2) it would ease the monthly struggle of figuring out how to cover all of the bills; and (3) too much TV is bad for your brain, anyway.

Then, he makes a list of reasons why he isn’t ready to give up the cable: (1) Monday Night Football; (2) Jersey Shore; and (3) keeping up with the neighbors, all of whom have cable TV. When the list-making is complete, he realizes that the two sides balance themselves out perfectly, and he is left teetering between the two choices.

It feels like torture when he tries to make a decision, and so he puts it off. Such is the dilemma faced by people in stage two. If the procrastination goes on too long, individuals get stuck in this stage and become “chronic contemplators.”

Next week, we’ll look at the strategies you can use to move from stage two to stage three.

Do you see any evidence of stage two behavior in your life?