Six Stages of Change


“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.” ― Maya Angelou

I recently had the honour of visiting the Clutter Clearers Peer Support Group, a couple of weeks ago to check in with them, see what they are up to and offer them some support.  Here is a link to an older post which talks about this amazing group of men and women  Did I mention that Peer Support Rocks!!!

They gave me a number of topics to consider presenting to them.  One of them was “the fear of slipping back” and “back to square one”.  I thought that focusing on the Stages of Change might be really helpful to this group.

After listening to the participants check in, I was able to relate some of the material I brought in to share with them.  This is what I wrote up about the Six Stages of Change.


Pre-contemplation:  “I don’t see that there is a problem.  Others have a problem and really are just jealous of my stuff”.

You might realize that there is a problem but you do not want to look at it or even consider tackling it.  It could be that people have tried to help you in the past and it didn’t work out so why bother.   If an individual was willing to look at the pros and cons of making a change there would definitely be more cons.

Starting to think about making a change is really important in helping someone to move from Pre-contemplation to Contemplation.  It might take some kind of crisis to help a person to move forward, like a visit from their Property Management who have some concerns,  a Fire Inspector who gives an order to make some changes,  getting an eviction notice,  wanting to live in a less chaotic environment or wanting to invite your friends or family over?  What would help you to want to move forward?

Contemplation:   “Maybe, I have a slight problem.  It seems that others are concerned about my health and safety, so maybe this is something I need to look at”.

Those in the contemplation stage may be thinking that they want to make a change but really don’t know how or where to start.   The pros and cons list likely looks pretty even here as you are open to looking for opportunities to learn and gather some new information.    You are able to visualize a little about what you really want in your life and how you want to feel in your space.  You also can even think about what you might do in your space if it was less cluttered.   This is a great time to be looking for support with a friend, family member, support group, clutter coach, etc.

Preparation:  “I am starting to feel more confident about being able to make a change, I know that I can do it”.

You are feeling motivated and ready to get started on your goals.  You are starting to feel more confident and know that you can be successful if you put your mind to it.  The pros of making a change totally outweigh the cons.   You are actively gathering information, resources, talking to others and seriously considering  joining a support group (possibly the CCSG) and/or hiring a coach to help with some one on one support.

Action:   “I am going to make that phone call today and sign up for that group”

This is a great time to be asking for help and accepting the emotional and physical help that is needed to move forward.  For myself, I needed to move some furniture which I couldn’t do myself.  I tried hinting which didn’t work and found that I had to ask more specifically.   Being clear on what I needed helped me to actually get my furniture moved.  Yeah!!

Being in the Action Stage means that you are implementing what you want and moving forward with your goals.  The pros continue to outweigh the cons here.   It is an ongoing process and that is when we are able to move on to Maintenance.

Maintenance:  “I have been doing this now for 21 days, 3 months, 6 months so it should be an ingrained habit”

Confidence is much higher than it was and the new habits have become a more integrated part of a daily routine and lifestyle and the risk of relapse is much lower.    However, several things can trigger a relapse like stress, crisis, boredom, apathy or life events that might occur such as a death in the family, a breakup, loss of a friendship or support, etc.   Sometimes, the balance can shift here when looking at the pros and cons as things can become more challenging.

Relapse:  “Who cares anyway?  No one visits me.  I can keep my place how I want it.  I like it messy”.

Sometimes having a relapse can really make us feel bad especially after all of the hard work we have done.   But it can also be a big wake up call to help us to not be so hard on ourselves, slip ups happen and we always have the opportunity to begin again.   This is a good time to look at the pros again and try to gather up your strength to start again.  Whenever, we are making a change and especially when trying to change some ingrained habits, I believe that it takes a lot of practice and that is what we are doing.   Practicing!!  And now that we have the tools we know what needs to be done!!

The Peer Group members could really relate to these six stages.  They generally can be very hard on themselves when they find themselves feeling stuck or they feel that they are really not getting anywhere.   They were able to see that even if they feel they have slipped back or let things go, they do not have to go back to Square One.  They might be back at the Preparation or the Action Stage.  When trying to make positive changes we will likely move around somewhat within these Stages of Change or “Stages of Healing” as how it was described to me by the Peer Support Group Facilitator and that is okay.   Never quit trying!!   There is always an opportunity to try again.

Change is always difficult.  Talking about making a change is great but actually following through with the action is what is going to help get that change going.  Change is motivational!!

Can you relate to the Stages of Change?  Is there something in your life that you are trying to change?

Please share in the comments below?



About Kim

Kim Tremblay is a Master Organizer and a Clutter Coach. She has worked with individuals helping them clear the physical and emotional clutter from their lives since 2008. Kim founded and co-facilitated a Clearing Clutter Support Group which has helped hundreds of individuals to make positive changes in their lives. Kim is currently working virtually with clients helping them to clear the emotional and/or physical clutter from their lives. Kim is available to speak to your group about all things organizing.
This entry was posted in De-Clutter Your Life, declutter, Emotional Clutter, goal setting, Inspiration, Organizing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Six Stages of Change

  1. This is excellent information that anyone who is a professional organizer can gain insight from. Thanks Kimberley!

  2. Kimberley says:

    Thanks so much Autumn – I really hope it will be helpful 🙂

  3. Seana Turner says:

    I think maintenance can be hard, especially when life events come crashing in. It’s good to forgive yourself when you fall off the wagon and just focus on the way to get back on. This is true for so many areas of life..

  4. Kimberley says:

    Thanks Seana – so true and I think we are all so hard on ourselves. Life does get in the way at times and forgiving ourselves is so helpful in being able to move forward.

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