The Four Stages of Change

How to effectively navigate change. The stages, how to know which one you’re in, and how to move past it.

Toku McCree
4 min readDec 7, 2021
Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Change in people follows a predictable pattern. Understanding this pattern can help you understand where you are in the change process and how to move to the next stage.

Stage 1: Unconscious to conscious

The first stage is going from unconscious to conscious.

In recovery work it’s called admitting you have a problem. In meditation, it’s called noticing when you’re thinking.

Sometimes this happens because you’re forced to wake up to something you didn’t notice before. Sometimes this happens because you want to change and you start looking. No matter how it happens before you can shift something you must become conscious of it.

How to know if you’re here: There’s a problem you’ve been avoiding. You know you need to deal with it, but you’re afraid to admit it to yourself or someone else.

How to move on: Share what’s going on with someone you trust. Ask them just to listen and reflect. Sometimes telling someone else can be really powerful and healing.

Stage 2: Fixing to Facing



Toku McCree

Executive coach and writer. I’ve toured with rock bands, trained as a zen monk, and taught preschool. My hope is that my writing makes you think.