Do you find yourself slipping away from your New Year’s resolution to make healthier choices?
My previous blog post, Be a Revolutionist (not resolutionist) – Part 1, focussed on taking some time to understand the reasons we do or don’t do something we want to change.
Observing and thinking about the choices you make, why you make them and when you make them, gives you the information you need to make a plan for change that will work for you long term.
Here’s how to put the information you collected into action.
“Revolutionize” your goals by understanding yourself and your motivation. Write down:
- Your goal. Frame it in terms of what behaviour you want to increase, instead of a behaviour you want to decrease. For example, “I want to eat meals three times a day” instead of I want to stop skipping meals”.
- Why you want to make a change. Be specific. Consider short term and long term reasons.
- Why you haven’t made the change already. What has made it difficult to change? Consider your environment, the people who are in it, your emotions and your confidence in making the change.
- Your plan for success. Write down the specific steps you will need to achieve your goal. With our example of eating three meals a day, perhaps this means packing a lunch at night before bed, setting a daily reminder on your phone or computer to let you know when it’s time to break or having healthy options at your desk for days that you just can’t get away. It can help to learn from people who are already doing the behaviour that you want to increase. What do they do to make it easier on themselves to do the behaviour? How do they get around obstacles?
- The solutions you have in place to overcome challenges. Be specific and address how you will get around the reasons you haven’t achieved the goal already. Make sure that the solutions you pick make sense for you. It helps to have a specific plan to deal with temptations. Will you avoid certain situations such as setting meetings that run over lunch time? Will you ask your friends to remind you of your goal and not tempt you away from it?
- A list of reasons why you will be successful. This helps you know how confident you are in what you want to do. It is also helpful to have this list to look back on when challenges come up. It can remind you that if you thought you could do something when you developed the plan, you still can.
- How you will reward yourself along the way. Rewarding yourself when you regularly do the behaviour you planned helps to reinforce it. Consider ways to reward yourself that are in line with your goals.
Mistakes will happen as you're learning to do something differently. This isn’t failure. It provides an opportunity to think about the plan again. You may need to make changes to it. Tweak it and keep going.
When you’re finished writing all this down, ask yourself: does this seem doable? If you think you can do it, then you can have success. If you don’t think you can do it, then rethink your goal and start with something smaller that feels manageable. Breaking a goal into smaller sub goals is a great way to get to the outcome you want and build confidence along the way.
If you need help setting healthy eating goals or don’t know where to start, call 8-1-1 and speak with a dietitian. Then share your successes with us. Have you overcome a hurdle? How did you motivate yourself?