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Why behavioral change is hard, and why you should keep trying, from Harvard Women's Health Watch

March 3, 2012

Anyone who's ever tried to quit smoking or lose weight knows how hard it is to break old habits or adopt new ones. Most people have to make several tries before they succeed. Others get so discouraged they give up. But every effort you make in the right direction boosts your chances of success, even if you backslide from time to time, reports the Harvard Women's Health Watch in its March 2012 issue.

According to one widely used theory (the transtheoretical model of behavior change), change occurs in five stages. Each stage is necessary before you can successfully move to the next, and stages can't be hurried or skipped. The entire process can take a long time and may involve cycling back through earlier stages before moving on. The five stages are:

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