Many of us are full of good intentions.
Intentions to improve ourselves, our lives, our health, our relationships, our careers, our impact on the world. Intentions to start changing habits.
Some make New Year’s Resolutions to start doing some things and stop doing others.
Some make them at other times.
Ever stuck with your resolutions?
Has it ever become a new and improved way of life for ever and ever *ahem*?
MY OWN ATTEMPTS AT CHANGING HABITS
I have to admit to many failed attempts myself at losing weight, getting fit, keeping a journal, de-stressing, giving up all manner of vices and all that shizzle.
I used the word FAILED. And that’s okay. I learned so much from those First Attempts In Learning (FAIL – geddit?).
And I’ve succeeded since. Lost weight, learned to eat for nutrition, taken up yoga, adopted a much more positive mindset and much much more. Habits that have stuck.
One of the first things I learned was don’t make a resolution in January, just because it’s January. It might be a NEW YEAR, but if you’re not ready to be a NEW YOU, it’s just not going to happen. You’re not setting yourself up for success.
So what’s my advice to my clients and other lovely ladies who want to start changing habits? Or have a big goal?
Here are my top tips.. …whether it’s losing that little bit of podge around the middle, protecting your bones, updating your image, improving your dull and dry skin, changing career or something else.
Top Ten Tips For Changing Habits and Meeting Goals
1. CHOOSE YOUR GOAL
Start with a blank page. The ideal outcome. Dream big. Don’t put obstacles in your way before you even start.
You can always scale back to what is practical and achievable for you right now. BUT don’t be tempted to be too easy on yourself either.
Make your goal stretching. You are a resourceful, creative person and you can work out HOW to make things happen, when you put your mind right to it.
2. DITCH AIRY-FAIRY
Be specific. No airy-fairy, vague aims.
Vague aims are not our friends.
So your goal is to spend more quality time with your family? What exactly does that look like? What precisely do you mean?
Eat dinner together every night? Help the children with their homework twice a week? Do a different family activity each Sunday? Get away for a short break together at least every three months? Plan a “date night”with your partner once a month?
Get into the nitty gritty.
Which leads me nicely to …
3. KNOW YOUR ‘WHY’
How much do you really care about this goal?
Be clear WHY you are setting it.
Take, for example, losing weight. WHY do you want to lose weight?
Improved health? Clothes fit better? Energy to run around playing with the kids? Reduce risk of chronic disease? For a big event?
They are moving you towards a big positive. If your goal is simply “Lose 20lbs” it’s moving away from a negative and sounds like torture… to me anyway.
Imagine what things will look like and feel like when you reach that goal. Really know, see, hear, touch, speak that WHY.
Don’t change because someone else thinks you should. You’re not going to be committed to that. In fact, you may end up trying to have those helpful folk committed instead.
Commitment is a tricky one. A step not to be missed.
Ask yourself how important the goal really is to you. What sacrifices are you willing to make to achieve it?
Often, we have to make tough choices when setting goals.
For example, if you’re goal is to get fitter, are you really going to get up earlier/leave work earlier/compromise on family or social time etc to do it?
What actions can you take to make any compromises easier? Maybe exercising in your lunch break could work? Or doing an activity your family and friends could do with you?
Where there is a will, there is a way. Brainstorm your options. Discuss them with people affected.
And check in with yourself. On a scale of 1-10 how committed am I really? Aim for a 10! If your motivation is at 2, you’re not going to be changing habits, are you?
You’re not setting up for success saying you’re going to eat spinach every night, if you loathe green leafy veggies with a passion. Choose goals and actions you can commit to.
5. SET THE DATE
So you’re going to finally write that book you’ve been banging on about for years?
BY WHEN? By the end of this year? Be reasonable and realistic, but be stretching. Not many books are a lifetime in the writing. Not many are cranked out in a weekend either.
It is okay to revise target dates. Sometimes things happen beyond your control.
Some actions towards your goal may be timed – daily/weekly/monthly etc. Monitoring progress helps keep you on track and give you a sense of achievement.
6. WRITE DOWN YOUR GOAL
Yep, simple as.
Writing it down makes it clear where you’re heading. It makes it real. It’s easier to make decisions because you have a clear destination. You’re much more likely to be successful changing habits.
Pin it on the fridge. Have it as your screensaver. Scribble it in your journal. Places you can see it and other people can see it, if it helps keep you determined.
7. TAKE SMALL STEPS
If you’re anything like me you get totally OVERWHELMED by “all or nothing”. So break your goal down into small steps.
Heard of the hare and tortoise? Yes, slow and steady wins the race. One small step at a time. Do tortoises “step”? I digress.
So if you want to start eating for nutrition and health, start with ONE small change per week maybe? Add in other small steps when you’re ready and able. It would be a big ask to turn from a “standard” diet to super dooper healthy overnight.
If you feel a little wobbly, focus on the current step rather than risk convincing yourself the overall goal is too big and too hairy.
It’s all a process. Changing habits to reach your big goal.
8. FIND A CHEERLEADER/BUTTKICKER
I’m often the cheerleader/buttkicker with my clients.
As a Health Coach, I help them set goals, monitor progress, see and identify obstacles and smash their targets.
I spur people on and support them to challenge themselves. Find out more about my health coaching packages HERE.
But if you’re not in a place to seek professional coaching, find a friend or accountability buddy.
Someone you can trust to share your goal and who will both encourage you to succeed and tell you the truth if you’re making excuses. A person who will help you see and overcome issues. Someone with no judgement.
9. MEASURE AND CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENT
You need to decide how you will know you’ve succeeded. How will you measure your progress and success?
Measure trends towards goals – journalling, Lab test results, energy levels, new achievements, feedback from family and friends, whatever works for you and is relevant to your goal.
Even reward yourself with something special and appropriate. Better not to reward yourself with a double cheeseburger and large fries washed down with a gallon of cola if you’re trying to manage weight or adopt healthier eating habits.
Be creative with your rewards – they needn’t cost an arm and a leg.
10. Rinse and Repeat
You’ve got this. Practice goal setting, monitoring and mastering your goals and you’re in the elite of the world’s population! Yay.
You can use the process to change habits or change anything you want really.
You can even have more than one goal at a time. Just be careful that achieving one doesn’t come at the expense of another. Going for a big promotion at work whilst spending more quality time with your family might need especially careful planning.
So you go girl. Go NOW if you’re ready and steady to go. Or gather your thoughts and make your goal and plans in good time. Don’t be pressurised.
Using these steps leaves less to chance and increases your chance of changing habits and smashing goals.
I wish you every success.