You may be familiar with the six stages within the process of breaking addictions and other unhealthful habits. You may even be able to name them: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance, and Termination. Today, let's get down to some practical advice for putting it all together.

In his book "Changing for Good," Dr. James Prochaska explains that reevaluating by identifying what we've learned from mistakes can strengthen the results of subsequent attempts to succeed. In other words, few of us are successful with the first try. Practice makes perfect.

Here are a few tips to keep you on track as you work toward making that practice--yes, even the missteps--count.

1. Continue to learn by gathering new information rather than just relying on trial and error.
2. A successful program for change requires an investment in yourself. Be prepared to make "deposits" regularly--that is, take care of yourself, body, mind, and spirit, no matter where you are in the process.
3. Beware of a skipping steps or moving to the next step too soon. This common pitfall can lead to new problem habits, such as substituting one unhealthful behavior for another.
4. Be prepared for complications, such as having several challenges arise at the same time. Planning ahead will help you meet them successfully.
5. The path to change is rarely a straight line. It is far more common to experience peaks and valleys along the way.
6. A momentary lapse is not necessarily a relapse. If you see you're about to slip up, get right back to your action steps to recover quickly.
7. Mini decisions lead to maxi-decisions--both positive and negative. For example, downsizing one shelf of snacks in your pantry adds up to many fewer excess calories over time; but bringing home trigger treats (however small in portion) may sabotage efforts later.
8. Distress precipitates relapse. Triggered emotions are the biggest high-risk factors, so be on the lookout, and come prepared for, situations that have the potential to cause an emotional jolt.
9. Ideally, learning translates into action. That is, ideas are good but making a point of acting on those ideas is the key to forward progress. Have you acted on what you've learned lately?

And finally, it's important to always remember that you're not alone in your quest to better yourself by taking back control over the things that have controlled you. I like to revise the old saying from "Misery loves company" to "Progress loves company." It helps immeasurably to have a network of trusted supporters to lend you a hand through the rough patches and celebrate with you as you reach milestones on your journey.

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.