Determine Your Readiness for Change
Do you feel like you should or need to change one of your lifestyle habits? Good. This is the first step, but just because you feel this way doesn’t mean you are ready to begin changing this habit. Next time you think about a behavior you would like to modify, ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how ready am I to change this habit or behavior?” (1= no interest at all, 10 = I’m starting today). If you rate your readiness between 1 and 5, perhaps it is not the right time to make a change. On the other hand, if your score is higher, then it just might be the perfect time to start working on that goal.
Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. So don’t decide to eat healthier. Decide to eat at least one serving of vegetables every day. Narrowing your focus to one specific habit and setting realistic, measurable expectations is the key to success when it comes to making improvements.
Simplicity is Key
We often bite off more than we can chew. Approaching this with an “all or nothing” attitude probably won’t garner sustainable, healthy habits. Do you have five habits that you are trying to change simultaneously? Take a step back and focus on one or two.
Build a Support System
Setting goals and changing habits can be daunting, so partner with family members or friends who are trying to achieve similar goals. This type of networking can provide support and accountability to motivate and encourage you to stay on the right path. You can also hold yourself accountable by recording food intake and/or physical activity with an app on your phone or a journal.
A positive result from your sustained, improved habits can be empowering and motivating. A reward may be as small as a 10-minute nap after a long mid-day walk or a new set of utensils to encourage you to cook at home. Or it could be as large as a new pair of shoes to encourage you to exercise daily. Once you’ve set your SMART goal, check back in a few weeks or months to see how you have progressed and if you’ve developed a sustained change. Keep up the good work!