HOW TO SET GOALS AND CREATE HEALTHY HABITS
Start small. Set a goal. Make a plan. Get to work. Stick to it. Reach that goal!
by Kim Baram
Every new year we start off by setting new goals telling ourselves... This year I'm going to:
exercise every day
start a new activity
drink less alcohol
... but hang on a minute, weren't these the same goals you had last year and the year before that? So what happened?
For a lot of people, for the first few weeks into the new year, some people did start working towards those goals, but then for some reason or another, they might have had a bad day and other things just got in the way. They lost their focus and those things ended up taking over and getting in the way of what they had set out to achieve in the first place.
Sometimes we put too much emphasis on the destination and not the journey. When you see other people achieving the same goals as you, but they are getting there faster, you compare yourself to them. This just adds pressure and puts more self-doubt in your own mind about why it's not happening for you quickly enough and you slowly start to give up.
Time passes and all of a sudden you find that you are no better off than you were 6 months ago. At this point, you ask yourself, "Where did I go wrong?"
Remember, everybody's journey is different and the only person you need to compare yourself to is yourself.
Do you remember ever saying to yourself something like, "Ok, I'm going to cut out all soft drinks, chocolates, cake, chips, go on a diet and only eat fruit and veges from now on and exercise every single day!"
This is what happens... You start off the week with exercising every morning and then something happens, you injure yourself or you have a late night and skip exercising that morning because you need a few more zzzzs with the intention of making it up tomorrow. Then you get to work and you start eating healthy, but then someone brings in the weekly homemade cupcakes and then there's someone else's morning or afternoon tea party with no healthy options and all your good intentions start to go out the window.
If you're someone who struggles with all of these things, then you're setting yourself up to fail.
If you took you years of unhealthy living and you've gained excess weight, then you're not going to fix all this in a few short weeks or months. It takes time to reverse any amount of damage and there is no magic diet, pill or quick fix – but don't get discouraged.
We have a habit of trying to do too much too soon, going hard core to make all these changes happen too quickly and then getting overwhelmed by it all. It is much easier to create new habits than it is to break old ones.
The first step to creating positive habit change is identifying and understanding how and why your habits are the way they are in the first place and once you understand how this habit was formed, you can start identifying new habits that you’d like to replace with your old ones.
Select one habit at a time
This can be replacing just one unhealthy habit with a new healthy one and after one month, when this feels like it has become part of your daily routine, you can then replace another unhealthy habit.
Example: If you replace 3 soft drinks each day down to just 1 soft drink and drinking more water throughout each day and do this for one month, then this helps to create a new habit. Then when you're ready, you can replace that 1 soft drink from each day down to once a week until you feel that you don't need it anymore.
And if you want to start exercising, don't try to go for an hour every day, just aim for 15 minutes every day and do that consistently for one month (but don't forget your rest days). That doesn't sound too hard now, does it?
Also, give yourself a realistic timeframe to achieve this and once you have accomplished one goal and celebrate this. Meaningful goals that are achievable also increases your motivation and will build momentum and will make you want to create and achieve more goals.
Start small and keep your goals simple
The smaller and simpler they are, the more likely you are to keep them. It’s easier to keep track of your progress if your goals are very specific and you need to measure your progress in some way.
Remove emotions from the equation, and just get up each day and do it. Don't even think about it! Just like showering and brushing your teeth, you just do it! Pretty soon, it becomes second nature and you automatically start doing it.
One habit at a time, one month at a time.
Leo Babuata, in his book, The Power of Less outlines his method of success in which he states... the key to forming long-lasting habits is to apply only one habit at a time, one month at a time, so that you’ll be able to focus all your energy on creating that one habit.
Choose any habit, whatever you think will have the biggest impact on your life.
Write down your plan. Be specific about what your goal will be each day, when you’ll do it, what your “trigger” will be, who you will report to.
Post your goal publicly. Tell as many people as possible that you are trying to form your new habit.
Report on your progress daily. Each day, tell the same group of people whether or not you succeeded at your goal.
Choose something measurable. You should be able to say, definitively, whether you were successful or not today. If you choose exercise, set a number of minutes or something similar (20 minutes of exercise daily, for example). Whatever your goal, make it measurable.
Be consistent. You want to do your habit change at the same time every day, if possible. If you’re going to exercise, do it at 7am or 6pm every day for example. This makes it more likely to become a habit.
Keep a positive attitude! Expect setbacks now and then, don't be too hard on yourself up, just make a note of them and move on.
Research shows that when people try to change a single behaviour at a time, the likelihood that they’ll retain that habit for a year or more is better than 80%. When they try two behaviours, their chances of success are less than 35%. When they try three behaviours or more, their success rate plummets to less than 5%.
So it’s really no surprise, when people try to do a massive overhaul of their lifestyle all too quickly, the changes simply don’t stick? Of course not. But, let’s be honest. Most of us aren’t known for being patient. And most people who come to us want to be in shape, like, yesterday.
Keep trying. Don't give up and if the goal doesn't work, change it. Your goals should be there to shape your life in a way that makes you happy, not enslave you to it. Because it's not about the destination, it’s about the journey you live along the way.
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Amore Fitness is a professional mobile personal training fitness business based in Brisbane, Queensland. We offer a premium, personalised health and fitness service with advice, motivation and support to help you lead a fitter, healthier, more active lifestyle.