So we’re at the beginning of a new year! “It’s a new year, so it’s a new me” is what I hear a lot, however, when it comes to it, many of us struggle to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves.
Thinking about this year… what are your goals or aspirations? Are you changing your habits? Maybe your goal is to eat healthier, lose weight, exercise more or get more sleep. Well, want my advice? If you’re changing habits, think smaller but be sure to celebrate your successes.
Whatever your goal, firstly, let me give you a huge high five for starting to plan improvements to your health and well-being.
Now, do you know how to set yourself up for success?
The answer may surprise you as in a culture of always aiming high, research shows that you’re more likely to achieve your goals when they’re small and attainable. It’s small, incremental shifts that genuinely help you alter long-held habits.
If you think that the key to changing an unhealthy habit is to tap into your inner box of willpower, you’d be mistaken. This theory even trips up the most determined of individuals.
I bet you or someone you know has said: “I couldn’t achieve my goal of eating right or exercising as I lack the self-control.”
However, the research shows that when it comes to changing your behaviour, willpower isn’t as significant as you might think it is —and it can even sabotage your efforts.
For example, research has found that people who achieve significant lifestyle changes and say they have excellent self-discipline hardly use the skill. They’re successful because they don’t put themselves into positions that make them test it. For example, instead of stressing about the chocolate and crisps that they can’t eat in the cupboard, instead, they just don’t have it in the house in the first place.
Your strategy instead…
Personally, the best way to take on any significant behavioural change is to think smaller and break your aspirations into small goals.
How small is small? Well, as small as possible.
For example; your overall goal might be to become more active and workout 5 days a week. However, this is quite difficult and probably unrealistic in the first instance. Chances are you’ll find distractions and priorities that hinder your progress towards this.
So, break it down in smaller, more achievable goals; helping you work towards to your overall goal:
- Buy a fitness tracker
- Track 2,000 steps a day next week by taking the stairs and walking to work
- Attend one fitness class next week
- Take a 30-minute walk
Use this year to make a positive change. Making your progress visible and recognising your successes fuels hope that you will accomplish what you’ve set out to.
Why not try it now while it’s fresh in your head. Get out a pen and paper and practice thinking smaller.
First, select one behaviour change you’d like to make for yourself within the next 30 days. List the small, concrete, and doable steps you can take to achieve this change. Limit yourself to just a few steps; don’t get bogged down writing everything at once.
Finally, for the steps you’ve outlined, list how you will track and celebrate each goal you accomplish. Why not use my own goal setting guide.
Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2019!