4 Ways to Start and Stick to Lifestyle Changes

If you have ever made an attempt to start a new routine you know how tough it is to not only start, but to stick with the changes. Maybe your goal is to wake up 15 minutes earlier, stop the never-ending social media scroll and instead play with your kids, or to prioritize time for the gym 3 days a week. It is frighteningly easy to talk ourselves out of the new way which, in the long run, are the activities and choices that mold us into our best selves. In fact, the average amount of time committed to a new routine, habit, or goal is less than 3 weeks. We return to what is familiar and safe- hitting snooze, just one more swipe for a funny dog video, or “I’ll workout tomorrow.” Try these 4 ways to start and stick to lifestyle changes and achieve your goals. 

1. Remember to not only focus on the habit itself, but also the preparation needed to complete it.

Implementing some prep work seems like more to do, but preparation and planning is what sets us up for success. For example, review your weekly calendar on Sunday, determine the days you are available to visit the gym, and write down the time you will devote to your health. Choosing the days and times in advance is one less decision to make during the week. 

2. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

Have the tools you need to complete your activity, habit, or task in front of you so you have no choice but to follow through. For example, you have committed to gym days on your calendar, now you need your tools. Keep workout clothes and running shoes near your nightstand to easily change into and eliminate the potential of becoming distracted or forgetting in the morning. We can talk ourselves out of exercising in the time it takes to fill a water bottle we planned to use for the workout; be intentional to have what you need ready in a place that makes sense for when you need it.

3. Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time span to accomplish).

SMART goals force the breakdown of an overarching goal into attainable steps of how to achieve the desired outcome. For example, instead of weight loss, choose the specific amount of weight to lose such as 20 pounds. Next, decide how you will measure the progress. This could be the number of pounds lost each week, body measurements, etc. From there decide if the goal is realistic and attainable, and what needs to be done to achieve it. Visiting the gym 3 days a week, meal prepping fresh foods, and taking the stairs are all great tactics to consider. Finally, decide the amount of time in which the goal can realistically be accomplished. Is it more realistic to lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks or 6 months with your strategy? Apply SMART goals to your lifestyle changes as a roadmap to guide you. 

4. Lastly, identify unique opportunities to challenge yourself while still working toward your goal.

It is important to realize your initial goal may evolve as you become more efficient and consistent with your habits. That is great news because it means you are growing through obstacles. This is the time to mix it up to avoid boredom while on the path to success. Let’s say you’ve gone to the gym 3 days a week for several weeks. You have more energy, feel stronger, and are ready to commit to an additional activity. Adding a walk to your routine a few times a week or signing up for a 5K with a friend are examples of how your goal may evolve over time. 

Discipline comes with repetition and time, not willpower. Follow the 4 guidelines to overcome the challenges of trying something new and achieve your goals.

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