As we all know, knowing you need to make a change doesn’t always translate into actually making the change. While you may know you need to eat a healthier diet or exercise more consistently, you may find yourself struggling to take any action. To figure out why you’re having trouble, it’s important to understand what’s at play.
Do you need to change?
The first step is looking inward and asking yourself if you believe you have a problem. For example, if your doctor has asked you to lose weight to improve your health, do you believe your doctor is right? Do you actually believe, deep down, that you have a weight problem and that your weight is negatively impacting your health?
If you don’t truly feel your weight is a threat to your health, you will most likely be unmotivated to make any changes to lose the weight. You may even feel angry or resentful that your doctor has asked you to lose weight. But if your doctor or other people in your life have expressed concern about your health, it may be worthwhile to consider what they have to say. Making change happen starts with accepting that there is something that needs to change.
Are you willing to change?
To make lasting change, you need to have a good reason to change. Maybe you want to lose weight so you can run after and enjoy playing with your children or grandchildren. Maybe you want to prevent heart disease, which runs in your family. Maybe you have chronic aches and pains that would be alleviated by losing weight. Whatever the reason, reflecting back on what is driving you to make this change can serve as a powerful motivator, reinforcing your willingness to make the change permanent.
Are you ready to change?
If you need to lose weight, you must be ready to take on the challenge. Preparing for this change may involve collecting healthy meal recipes to try, clearing junk food out of your house, or identifying a new route home from work that doesn’t take you past your favorite fast-food restaurant in order to reduce temptation. Maybe you can recruit a family member or friend to join you in your journey and serve as an accountable partner. Preparing for the change sets you up for success — you can ensure you have the support you need and you have identified ways to overcome potential obstacles.
Are you able to change?
In order to form a new habit, start with adopting some easy-to-stick-with habits first. To succeed, break down your large goal into smaller goals that are easy to achieve and help build your confidence. For example, if you want to eat healthier, examine your current eating habits, make a list of changes you’d like to make, and then choose the easiest change to tackle first.
Maybe the easiest change you can make is cutting out your daily afternoon bag of chips. To make the change easy to stick with, try substituting something else crunchy and salty, like fresh cucumber slices sprinkled with a small amount of salt, to satisfy your craving.
Once you have successfully cut out your daily afternoon bag of chips, try tackling another change, such as snacking in front of the TV. To keep your hands busy while watching TV, try knitting, putting a puzzle together, or doing some other activity that distracts you.
To make lasting change, it’s important to first ask yourself if you’re willing, ready, and able to change, and then put a plan in place. Any goal is achievable when broken down into smaller goals.