Building on Habit Change: Take it one step at a time

Habit change can be summed up in a few sentences:
1. Habit change is hard.
2. Habit change takes time.
3. The time and effort put into changing habits are completely worth it!

The trouble is that people often get caught up in between #2 and #3, the HOW: HOW much effort? HOW long will it take? The answer varies for each person, but there are a few rules that each of us can follow…but most people forget to do on their own:

a. Set goals
b. Document the change
c. Reward yourself

This week, let’s talk about the first rule: setting goals

The first task in setting a goal is to establish what your main end point is. Then, you can set smaller accomplishments along the way. This is often where people get stuck  - the smaller steps are forgotten or not given enough importance in the grand picture. Studies in the psychology of human behavior change point to the achievement of smaller goals as the motivation for more change.

For example, say you want to run a 5K. Obviously, that can be a challenging goal if you are inactive. The 5K is the end goal. If you’ve ever seen a training program for running, you know that each week builds on the last, so that you’re constantly doing good for your body and preparing it for the end point: the 5K. Each week is an accomplishment in itself, because it takes effort.

As a Motivation Manager, here’s what I’d like to see as a list of goals toward running the 5K

Main goal: Run a 5K
Small step 1: Pick a date/city. For Example: Chicago’s St. Paddy’s 5K.
Small step 2: Choose a training program – with/without a group? Is it from a trusted website/source/experienced runner?
Small step 3: Start the training program!

In this case of a 5k, you might just try and run at an easy pace for 5 minutes twice a week.  Then 7 minutes the week after.  Small increments may seem insignificant at first, but it is amazing what you can accomplish over time.  We have clients that came in and couldn't do one or two push ups. They are now doing over twenty and feeling the effects of being stronger, healthier - having more energy.

It may take help from a trusted friend or an advisor (a Personal Trainer, Registered Dietitian, or Motivation Manager!) along the way, and your initial goal list may need revising, but setting a comprehensive list gives you targets to aim for, and a clear picture of all you need to do to achieve your goals.