As the New Year approaches and resolutions are going to be made, we start to consider what changes we want to take with us into 2018. How many of us have set a goal for a "New Year, New You" and barely managed to get through February! Since the running joke is that new year's resolutions are rarely kept, let's change the statistic and set ourselves up for success. We all have an area of self-improvement we want to work on, or a goal we want to achieve. So when it comes to making a long-term change, how do you start? I think many of us tend to see any kind of change as something that needs to be all or nothing. Unfortunately, that mentality sets us up for failure. When it comes to change, the key to success seems to be SMALL changes, which are more sustainable and build upon each other to reach your goal. A few suggestions I make to my patients when they are starting a new exercise program or recovering from an injury:
Be REALISTIC about how much time you have to devote to the goal.
select an easily managed amount of time to start.
remember anything helps and you can always add time as you start seeing success!
Break your goal down into small, SUSTAINABLE steps.
approach your goal as if you are working towards building new habits for a lifetime.
Being realistic about how much time you have to devote to your goal allows you to choose steps that are reasonable and appropriate to fit into your life. There are only 24 hours in the day and being realistic means we have 16 useable hours. So, when we are planning to achieve a new goal we need to prioritize the goal knowing that something has to give so that we can divert our time and devote it to the new list of priorities.
Goal Setting Like a Pro
By making small changes, you give yourself the best opportunity to build them into your life as habits. Jumping into a workout plan that requires hours each day or removing all processed foods from your diet can feel like you are kick starting a new lifestyle, but those kinds of drastic changes are very difficult to sustain. Goal setting is breaking your goals down into smaller components (e.g. Limiting candy consumption to a specific number per week or adding a 30-minute walk to your day a few times a week) which allows you to shift your behaviours and make changes with less effort. Less effort means you are more likely to integrate your new habits into your lifestyle. Once a small change becomes a habit, you will be able to start adding the next steps to reaching your goal.
Crash diets, extreme exercise plans, cramming for an exam – there are people who can do these things and get the results they desire, but for most of us those methods of change are short lived and tend to backfire. So this New Years, why not try something different?
Pick one GOAL and break it in to at least 3 small steps that you can easily make in to habits for the long-term.