Starting a new habit is one thing, but changing an existing habit is a whole new game, and not one that is easy to win. Taking time to sit and truly think about not only WHAT you want to change but WHY, writing it down and briefly outlining a plan of action will give you a solid foundation and better chance of success.
In the worksheet below you will find the tools needed to create your own personalized plan, and here is how you can ensure it will be practical and useful:
- First, dissect what your “big picture” goal is. Losing 5 pounds is a smaller goal of a big picture goal of – perhaps – having healthier everyday habits, eating cleaner, or leading an active lifestyle.
- The “why” goes deeper than simply, “to look better”, or “to be a runner”. Imagine yourself living in your big picture world and ask yourself how it will make your life more enjoyable. Maybe your big picture goal is to lead an active lifestyle, so your “why” could be because you want to keep up with your kids or go on vacations with your spouse that require a lot of activity (walking, hiking, swimming, etc).
- The “how” is your general goal(s). If eating more cleanly is your big picture goal, perhaps your “how” consists of eating out less, cooking more and/or reading food labels.
- Being specific in what habits you want to change will give you focus and help you from getting overwhelmed. You don’t need to have 3, maybe 1 goal is a good place for you to start and once you are comfortable with that change, you can add another! Whether you have 1 or 3 goals, they should all be relatively small and tangible. Instead of “I will cook more”, make your goal, “I will cook dinner 4 nights a week”, or “I will bring my lunch to work 4 days a week”. If you never cook at home, make it 1-2 days and go from there. These goals must be feasible.
- If your goal is to cook 4 nights a week, the “by doing” section could be that on the weekends you will plan out which meals you will make that week, and grocery shop for everything before Monday. If your goal is to run 4 times a week, your “by doing” could be to join a local run group or get 2 runs in during the week and 2 over the weekend.
Barriers & Plan
- Life happens. Stress happens. Your kids get sick, you get sick, you take on a more demanding job or your in-laws come stay with you. For all these occasions you need a back up plan. Picture your day-to-day and something that is most likely to get in the way of your goal action, and come up with a plan/action to combat it. This way, when you’re stressed mentally, stressed for time, or your first line of defense isn’t plausibly, you already have a go-to action without having to think of it.
- Your “if” may be “if I get home too late to get dinner ready”, a good “then” could be, “I will order from one of these healthy take out places”. If this is the case, when you fill out this worksheet spend a little time looking through local delivery places and circling or bookmarking 3-4 healthy options from a few of them. This way all you have to do is pick from a list of things you’ve already deemed a healthy option instead of calling for pizza or getting fast food.
- Another example; if your goal is to workout at your local gym 3 days a week but you’re stuck at home with a sick child, your back up plan could be to do an at-home workout DVD or printed out bodyweight circuit found in the workouts tab here or on another free fitness site.
Having a defined goal and plan of action clearly laid out is empowering! Print yours out and place it somewhere you will see it easily and you may find your willpower increases by seeing your big picture goal so often. By doing the leg work when you aren’t stressed or pressed for time, the more willpower and resources you will have when you find yourself tested.
If you would like personalized guidance in creating and implementing your plan with the support of a certified professional along the way, my 4-week Kickstarter Health Coaching program is for you! Shoot me an email and let’s chat about your goals!