Incremental baby steps...
…Is all it takes.
Ever wondered if there is a theme attached to the reason behind you not achieving your health goals? That’s just it – maybe you’re focused on the end goal too much, rather than the incremental, baby steps or changes, you need to make towards the goal.
Habits are actions or behaviours we do automatically – automatic functions like breathing and swallowing ensure we survive without having to schedule time in our calendar to remember to do them. That’s why habits are hard to break – we are designed to go into auto pilot.
So as clever - and as necessary - as being able to breathe automatically is, it takes extra commitment and awareness to change a habit or create a new one, in an attempt to reach a health or wellness goal. Perhaps an easier way to go about planning a goal is to break your goal into manageable chunks – make them achievable in a short time frame, make them easy to identify as being achieved and celebrate along the journey when you do!
Let’s try an example – a goal to “eat something healthy after dinner before bed”. Framing a goal in the positive is always going to help – the negative version of this is to “stop eating unhealthy snacks after dinner before bed”. Sadly, our brains just tune to the word “unhealthy” which isn’t going to help us get off to a great start. So how do we break this goal into manageable chunks? Easy – week 1 – replace 2 nights with a healthy alternative. Week 2 – replace another night and so on. Eventually it becomes easier (habitual) to make the healthy choice and you might ultimately settle on 6 nights out of 7. By taking this phased approach, and by allowing yourself a treat once or twice a week, you are not depriving yourself completely, which means you are more likely to stick with this habit!
That’s half the battle – not introducing goals which are so stringent that ultimately you are left feeling deprived or exhausted from trying to stick to a strict regime 24/7! The other half of the battle in this particular example is to find the alternative – what is a healthy alternative that will keep you satiated?
The point is to make incremental changes which don’t leave you feel trapped or deprived. Allow yourself some time to reach your goal and celebrate your mini achievements or milestones along the way. Be kind and be realistic about the goal. Ever thought about the easiest way to eat an elephant? The answer is of course “one bite at a time”!