One Habit at a Time
Don’t tackle several changes at once. Successfully conditioning one habit change is more useful than giving up on a half dozen changes after a month.
Taking on too much is a common reason why so many New Year’s Resolutions fail. If the goal is too much of a stretch, it can fuel a downward cycle: lack of achievement, decreased motivation, and self-criticism. By starting small, you increase the likelihood of taking the vital action steps, and each “win” helps build your belief that you can achieve your goals. This creates an upward spiral of confidence, motivation, optimism, and competence: all key ingredients of self-efficacy and success.
A simple way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, resolving to never eat your favorite food again is setting you up to fail. Instead, strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding it more often than you do now.
A habit that is performed the same way, at the same time and under the same conditions every day for a month will be reinforced far more strongly than one that changes throughout the week. Be consistent and you can spend less time reinforcing a habit.
Track Your Progress
Record or chart your changed behavior. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and each small accomplishment will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, focus on losing the first five. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track, and reward yourself for each five pounds lost.
Keep a Journal
Open up a new word document and commit to writing a few sentences each day about your progress. I’ve found this method helpful in reminding me about my commitment and helping me focus on the change I want to make. Write down the reasons why you are working toward your goal so that you can refer to them during times when you feel uninspired and unmotivated.
Get Support From Your Friends and Family
You’ve probably heard this advice a million times, but that is because the buddy system actually works. Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. Explain what your goals are to your close friends or family and ask them to help you achieve your objectives. Better yet, enlist the help of others by joining a group that shares your goal.
Don’t beat yourself up
Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.