I read a lot of sociology and psychology books and work for a communications firm that inspires behavior change, so that’s to say, please forgive me while I nerd out a bit.
The transtheoretical model of behavior change says we move through five stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
There are more pre-action stages than there are post-action stages. Moving from wanting to do something to actually doing it – making the bold departure from where you are to where you want to be – I think, is often the hardest part.
Of course, the model says at any stage you can relapse into a previous stage. That’s life. But, overwhelmingly, once you take that first bold step, it’s much easier to stay there. I find that to be true in so many areas of my life, especially travel.
I started traveling somewhat recently but I was contemplating and preparing for quite some time – most of my 20s! I daydreamed about where I’d go, researched when was the best time to go where, mentally mapped out a perfect sequence of vacations that made sense.
But life isn’t perfect, life doesn’t make sense, and contemplating and preparing doesn’t bring you wonderful new experiences. I needed to take the first step: buying a ticket. Going.
Once I did that, it was almost like a light switched on. My roadblocks just weren’t there anymore. I realized I could choose to afford travel. I could make being away from my personal and professional responsibilities at home work. I could decide. I could just go.
That year, I traveled around the U.S. I went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Seattle (I was still living in Arizona at the time); Boston, Cape Cod and New York; San Diego; northwest Arkansas (okay, that one was for a wedding); Sequim, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State; and then finally, my first international trip in 10 years, Belize.
Now my travel daydreams are balanced with a healthy amount of actual travel because I’m not waiting for anything anymore!*
If you want to read more about the transtheoretical model, which is most often applied to healthy behavior change – and I think travel definitely qualifies as a healthy behavior! – check out Changing for Good by James O. Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente.
Tell us in the comments, on social media, or send us an email:
What are you waiting for to take your next big trip?
If you’re already in the action or maintenance stage, what was the catalyst for you?
In what other areas of your life are you making changes?
*In case I sound too rah rah and like I just have it all figured out…here’s a list of things I have put off taking action on in the last week: emptying the dishwasher, running, emailing my landlord, and RSVPing to a wedding.