For many of us, as we transition through the first quarter of the new year, we feel that urge to make significant changes in our lives, but while it is easy to say, it is much more difficult to do and even harder to maintain.
So where does one start when the urge to make change comes over us - it all comes down to strategy. At this stage people often question, are we just better off simply getting on with it rather than wasting time planning it all out?
The answer to the question really depends on you, the individual. If you are the type of person that is quick to change and then quicker to change back, then strategy is the key. There are 4 key areas that are useful to consider when planning life-changing.
1) Plan around your weaknesses
We all have things that we enjoy doing and things we don’t, so when considering change the first thing to do is work out what some of the difficult areas that are potentially holding you back. The reason that this is so important is because we want to avoid having weak links in our ‘health-chain’. As humans, we like doing the things we are good at and by definition steer away from the things that we don’t, but this year do it differently. Focus on some of your weaker areas and while they may never be your true strengths, they can at least become on par with other areas of your life.
2) Plan around your failure
We all like to think that we are going to do it perfectly the first time, but like all changes, our brains prefer old habits - as they say, old habits die hard. I prefer to think that old habits re-emerge when we are at our weakest, stressed and most tired! So plan these elements. When are you likely to lose your current goal? When are you likely to cheat? When do you have poorer motivation to continue? If it’s a nutrition change do you need to avoid going past that bakery that always tempts you in? If it’s a gym routine, what are you going to do when work deadlines are coming in quick and fast? Planning your failures and what you are going to do when they happen, is the key to success.
3) Pigeon-step planning
In the UK, many people have successfully joined the program ‘couch to 5k’. The program would take non-runners and over a period of a few months, train them to be able to run a distance of 5km. When you analyse the program, the first week hardly has any running, but then neither does the second or third weeks. The program is designed to minimise failure. You start small with a few seconds of jogging, and then a few more, and before you realise it, you’ve managed 5-minutes, 10-minutes and eventually all the way up to 5km distance. The success of the programme is based around creating sustained improvement, minimal failures and habit formation. So while your own targets may have nothing to do with running, try and work out how you can pigeon-step to success.
4) Reward planning
The final step in successful life-changing is reward planning. You may not think that you would respond to the simple training techniques of our beloved canines, however, our brains love a good reward. As you go through the first day, first week and first milestone make sure you have worked out in advance exactly how you are going to reward yourself. The only caveat is that if the change is based on eating well, try and make the reward well away from the sugary foods that you may have been trying to avoid.
Changing our lives for the better is a vital part of living healthily. Try and use the 4-steps to success to guide you through the first few weeks of change. After a few months the changes will default to become your new normal and give you the opportunity to move one step closer to becoming the best and healthiest version of yourself.
Author: Dr. Adam Greenfield, Co-founder of WorkLifeWell | Doctor of Chiropractic | Wellness Specialist
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