Navigating Habit Change and Goal Attainment: The Power of Transtheoretical Stages

I’m often asked by executive clients that I coach about how to change long-standing habits and initiate change leading to goal attainment. After all, that’s why we engage a coach, right?

Over the next few weeks, I thought I’d concentrate on a number of models that those of us who have studied Coaching Psychology use in our practice to help our clients reach their goals.


Change, in any aspect of our lives, is often a challenging endeavour. Whether it’s adopting a new habit, achieving a personal goal or striving for professional success, we all grapple with the complexities of change. As a passionate advocate for leadership and personal development, I’ve come to appreciate the significance of the “Transtheoretical Stages of Change” in our journey towards self-improvement. 


Originating from the realm of psychology, the Transtheoretical Model offers a structured approach to understanding and facilitating change. Developed by Prochaska and DiClemente in the late 1970s, this model has proven to be a valuable tool in various fields, including executive coaching. In this article, I’ll explore the application of these stages in habit change and goal attainment. 


Stage 1: Precontemplation 

In the “Precontemplation Stage”, you are not yet aware of the need for change. You may be resistant to new ideas or habits, often due to a lack of information or understanding. As a coach, my role here is to provide you with the necessary knowledge, encouraging you to contemplate your current state and consider potential improvements. It’s a pivotal phase, requiring patience and gentle guidance. 


Stage 2: Contemplation 

During the “Contemplation Stage”, you begin to acknowledge the need for change. You weigh the pros and cons of your current situation versus the desired outcome. My job is to help clarify your goals, identify barriers and develop a realistic plan for change. This stage is all about thoughtful reflection and preparation. 


Stage 3: Preparation 

In the “Preparation Stage”, you are ready to take action! You’ve set clear goals and are developing strategies to achieve them. As a coach, I assist in creating a detailed action plan, offering support and motivation. This phase requires commitment and a willingness to embrace change. 


Stage 4: Action 

The “Action Stage” is where change truly takes shape. You actively modify your behaviour and implement your plans. It’s a dynamic and often challenging phase where some of my clients may face setbacks. My role here is to provide ongoing support, helping to stay on track and adjust  strategies as needed. 


Stage 5: Maintenance 

After achieving the desired changes, individuals enter the “Maintenance Stage”. They work on sustaining new habits and preventing relapse. In this phase, clients need continuous reinforcement and encouragement. I help them build resilience and self-efficacy, ensuring long-term success. 


Stage 6: Termination 

Though not always reached, the “Termination Stage” is the ultimate goal. In this stage, you’ll have successfully ingrained the desired changes into your life. You no longer face the risk of returning to previous habits. Celebrating this achievement is essential, as it signifies the triumph of personal growth. 


The Transtheoretical Model offers a comprehensive framework for navigating change, whether it’s in the realm of personal habits or professional success. As someone deeply passionate about leadership and personal development, I have seen firsthand how these stages can be applied in the coaching journey.


The process is not necessarily a linear one – and there may be some “backwards and forwards” movement at times between stages – as individuals “find their feet”. This is where the strength of the coach really comes into play. By having someone there to recognise, encourage and provide perspective, the likelihood of habit change and ultimately goal attainment is significantly improved


In the fast-paced world of executive coaching and leadership, embracing change is pivotal. Leaders must continually evolve and adapt to meet new challenges. The Transtheoretical Stages provide a roadmap to transformation. As coaches, we guide leaders through these stages, helping them refine their skills and behaviours to excel in their craft.


In closing, the Transtheoretical Stages of Change offer a powerful lens through which to view the dynamics of habit change and goal attainment. With patience, support and a structured approach, individuals can successfully navigate these stages and realise their full potential. As someone who’s dedicated to the art of coaching and personal development, I firmly believe that understanding and leveraging these stages can be a game-changer in one’s quest for personal and professional growth.


Want to know more about how you can utilise this model to engage change?

Let me help you how Trans-Theoretical Model can revolutionise your leadership game.

Book a call with me here.


Jo Attard Watters is the Managing Principal and Founder of PeopleEdge Coaching & Consulting. Jo is a professional, Master’s degree qualified Executive and Career Management Coach, Consultant, Business Adviser and Academic who works with individuals and organisations to help them “be the best they can be”. With significant experience within both Corporate and Not for Profit sectors, Jo is passionate about seeing her clients succeed in their areas of interest.