Helping patients change behavior is an important role for family physicians. Change interventions are especially useful in addressing lifestyle modification for disease prevention, long-term disease management and addictions. The concepts of "patient noncompliance" and motivation often focus on patient failure. Understanding patient readiness to make change, appreciating barriers to change and helping patients anticipate relapse can improve patient satisfaction and lower physician frustration during the change process. In this article, we review the Transtheoretical Model of Change, also known as the Stages of Change model, and discuss its application to the family practice setting. The Readiness to Change Ruler and the Agenda-Setting Chart are two simple tools that can be used in the office to promote discussion.