Have you ever been frustrated with someone who isn’t taking your advice? They keep coming to you over and over and asking you what they should do, so you tell them, but they don’t actually end up changing their behavior. At times it can make you want to pull your hair out and scream, “I know what you need! Just listen to me!”
Over the years of working with people who are in a tough spot financially, I have come to understand that there are different levels of readiness for change. In many different professional fields, this has been broken down in to 5 stages – pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
Usually if someone is in my office talking about a financial problem, then they realize that there is an issue. So I have changed those levels and re-worded them for my own liking:
1) Awareness – This is the stage that the vast majority of people who come in to my office are in. Life hurts and they don’t like it. They know that something is wrong, but they just aren’t ready to change their behavior. This stage can be extremely emotionally draining because they feel pain and you want to help, but they just aren’t ready. The key to this stage is not to force the change because they aren’t ready, but to continue to walk with until they are ready to act.
2) Action- The next stage is the action stage. People have weighed the pros and cons of action versus inaction and they decided (for whatever reason) that now is the time to act. This is a great place to be as a coach because what you say is not just heard but acted upon.
3) Growth- Sustainability is the key at this point in the process. This is where you are helping the person put boundaries in their life to prevent them from going back to where they once were. This is also a great time to address foundational issues in their life that were causing the poor actions in their life.
Knowing the path to change that we are all in will completely revolutionize the way that you coach and disciple people. Normally in these relationships, we don’t understand the stages and the progression and neither do they, therefore we become frustrated and hurt and the emotional weight becomes too overwhelming for the relationship to continue.
Take the time to find out where someone is on the path to change and then work forward accordingly.
What have been some of your experience with people who are not ready for change?