WAYS TO CHANGE A BEHAVIOR AND MAKE IT STICK
Do you find yourself setting the same New Year’s resolution year after year? Do you start making behavior changes but find yourself reverting back to old habits? If so, you are not alone. Making changes to our lifestyle and behaviors can be tricky and sometimes hard. We often won’t succeed the first time, but don’t be discouraged; here are a few tips to help you make those lifestyle changes stick.
- Ditch the “perfectionism” mentality. An example of this mentality would be, “I had one cookie so now my diet is ruined! I might as well finish off the rest of this platter.” This all-or-nothing mentality gets in the way of making progress on your goals. Instead, focus on why you are making these changes in the first place.
- Focus on your why. Frequently, we set goals based on what we think we “should” do instead of “why” we want to change. The motivation to go to the gym is a lot different when someone’s “Why?” is because they want to see their grandchildren one day versus if they go because that’s just what people my age do. When sticking to your goals gets hard, focus on why you started in the first place.
- Set SMART goals. A goal not written down is just a wish, but a goal that is too broad never gets accomplished. Using the SMART acronym is a great tool to set specific goals and measure progress. SMART stands for:
- S – Specific: Focus on a small aspect of the broader goal. For example: “I will go on a walk every day for a month” versus “I want to be healthier.”
- M – Measurable: Being able to track progress helps to keep you on track and focused in achieving goals. In the example above, it is easy to track whether the person went on a walk or not.
- A – Achievable: Is this goal something that I can accomplish? Going on a walk every day is more achievable for someone just starting to become physically active versus running five miles every day.
- R – Relevant: Is the goal important to you? (Think back to your “Why?”) This individual has a young family, but was recently told by a doctor they have high blood pressure and are at risk for more serious health problems if lifestyle changes aren’t made. Going on daily walks not only helps decrease those risks but they are able to spend that time with family as well.
- T – Timely: Every goal should have a time frame or a deadline to focus on. To continue with the example, a timely goal would sound like, “In one month of walking every day, I will be able to walk farther and longer than I can today.”
- Celebrate the small victories. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Changing a lifestyle or behavior takes time and often isn’t achieved on the first try. Rather than dwelling on what went wrong, celebrate what went right. Use those “failures” as ways to change or adjust your goals so that you can continue to see success in your changes.
- Get an accountability partner. Find a trusted friend, spouse or family member who can help keep you accountable and on track toward achieving your goals. When you have another person to be accountable to, you are more likely to stick with it through the hard times. Plus, it’s always nice to have a cheerleader in your corner.
Life is a balancing act, and many times you may feel a bit, well, lopsided. As you juggle daily tasks, a demanding work schedule, a family life, a home — or any combination of the above — remember to find time for yourself and take a break. Meditation began as a spiritual endeavor centuries ago in India and has made its way, like yoga, to the rest of the world. The benefits of meditation are realized by those who choose to practice it regularly.
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Mariah Carey sports one. Robert De Niro has one too. Supermodel Cindy Crawford even made hers famous. We are talking about moles, and as much as moles and freckles can be a unique part of your identity (as they should), they also need to be watched for signs of skin cancer.
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