It's quite a familiar tale - we've all done it, set a goal or promised ourselves that change is coming.
Somewhere along the way, something interrupts our plans and we just don't hit that goal. Why?
Setting goals can be intimidating. Sometimes we have grand plans and might be setting ourselves up for a fall if that goal isn't realisitc enough. Over complicating our plans like this can often lead to limitations of our success. This sort of resistance is known as the Terrible Toos:
Too big: Grand gestures, overblown plans, ambitious ideas - all of these can put simple lifestyle changes out of reach for most people. Smaller changes actually have a bigger impact on our everyday lives and provide us with stepping stones to a substantial change!
The good news is that breaking your goals down into smaller managable steps can increase your motivation and chances of success.
Too tired: Change is tiring; even more so if that change has proven too difficult for you to succeed previously.
Small wins keep us motivated and increase our enthusiasm for continuing our journey.
Too comfortable: We all love a familiar routine, so when we are settled and life is ticking along it's so much harder to shake things up and introduce something new. Even if our goal has a shiny and exciting outcome, we might be easily drawn back to the habits that we know and love.
But, with good planning, bad habits can be easy to break - it just takes practice!
Ref: Starr K R, Householder L. Why we resist: The surprising truths about motivating behavior change. New York, NY: Syneos Health; 2019
Take bite size chunks
There is nothing more intimidating than a huge goal looming ahead of you. Even when you are fiercly motivated to achieve it, we all know that the route to success is never straightforward. So make sure you plug in lots of micro planning along the way. Forming links between everyday tasks and reaching your goal is a really good place to start. For instance:
I will drink a glass of water as I wait for the kettle to boil when I get up in the morning.
This is a habitual behaviour - boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea and can easily be linked to a new behaviour of drinking a full glass of water to get the day started.
Remembering why you are making the change
What's at the forefront of your motivation for change? If you can articulate the reason why you are setting a goal, and then verbalise it to a friend or family member you are much more likely to commit.
The more we share our intentions the more we focus on why we want to change, plus there is someone who is then interested in hearing the progress we are making!
Often our habits begin with a signal that triggers a routine which ultimately ends in reward. Can you think of a situation like this? For instance:
Cue: The children walk in the door from school at 3pm
Routine: The kettle is switched on, a pot of tea is made, I reach for the biscuit tin for them and I have a couple of biscuits myself
Reward: A break from work, a drink and a snack
This is a formed pattern but one that can be altered by switching an element within the routine and trying it out for size. Switch the biscuits for a healthier alternative for everyone, or make the 'break' the reward and listen to a favourite song.
Recognising where those patterns in our day are is another great step to making changes that stick.