New and improved! These positive words lift our spirits and give us hope, especially when the new and improved is our own lives. A new year seems like a great time to improve ourselves in some way, like losing weight, getting “in shape” or stopping a bad habit like smoking.
Yet within only 2 weeks, the vast majority of us give up our new goals and go back to old habits which keep us feeling stuck. How can we extend that time of success from weeks to months to permanent change? Following are 5 tips to increase your chances of success.
- Make small, very specific goals. Toss out the goal to “Lose 2 lbs every week.” Why? Because you cannot will yourself to lose weight. Work on the goal “I will cut my normal portions in half Monday thru Friday” or “I will walk 15 minutes during lunch break” because you have control over those things. These goals are a first step to give you confidence- change them as needed to fit your life.
- Monitor your progress. Those who are successful at lifestyle changes keep track of their changing habits. A simple check placed on the calendar to show you exercised. A small notebook set on the counter to record your meals.
- Aim for Persistence not Perfection. Since most people give up on their goals by the end of 2 weeks, plan to persevere for 1 month at a time. Expect to not follow it perfectly, but at the same time plan to not give up!. Look at your goal weekly and see if it needs to change a little to fit your reality. Then keep trying!
- Get help and support. Online calorie counters, local weight loss classes, local gyms, personal trainers, a friend or spouse who will walk with you.
- Plan rewards along the way. The best rewards are ones which do not sabotage your hard work, so try to plan non-food rewards as needed. Every day you meet your goal, put a dollar in a jar. When it adds up, treat yourself to a massage, flowers or a new item of clothing. Or track the miles you walk by mapping it on a wall map, seeing “how far you can go”.
Be creative, be persistent, check your progress and ask for help. Before long, you will see significant changes that help you celebrate the new and improved you!