Changing habits and making goals that really stick

Susan from The Wellbeing and Wellness Coach shares some tips around how to make effective change and set realistic goals.

Have you ever set a new years’ resolution only to find that your goals have slipped away from you before the end of the first month?! We’re at that point in January when many people start to abandon their good intentions. I’m a huge believer that it doesn’t need to be January to make change and that new habits and positive change can happen at any point of the year. There is huge value in learning how to make effective habit change. A key to this is making consistent, small and positive changes that are realistic and that will genuinely stick. I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite tips around setting goals and how to make real change happen.

  • Keep it positive
  • Making positive change is always to be applauded although it’s important to remember your worth as you are now. Be kind to yourself and try to frame your goals in a positive way. For example, rather than saying, “I will stop being lazy and sitting on the sofa after work” you could say, “I will energise myself and build stamina with a 20-minute walk or workout each day after work”. Framing the goal in a more constructive, positive way will have a powerful impact on your mind and draw you more towards taking action.
  • Stick to one main overall goal at a time
  • Wanting to conquer lots of huge changes is credible but for most people it’s not genuinely realistic in one go. There are a very small percentage of people that can conquer significant change and multiple goals at the same time. You’re much more likely to make change if you choose one goal and commit to it fully. You can always layer on additional goals and challenges once you’re making progress.
  • Break the goal down into achievable actions
  • A really important part of any goal is thinking about where you want to be and then comparing it to where you are now. Once you understand the difference you can develop key steps or milestones that will take you from the current place through to your goal. Think about what genuine actions or steps you need to take and be realistic. For example; if someone wants to run a marathon, their first milestone might be to run a 5km distance. The first action may simply be getting your trainers on and walking around the block on specific days each week and gradually building the distance and pace.
  • Use habit stacking to help form a new routine
  • I’m a huge fan of James Clear and in particular his book Atomic Habits which talks a lot about habit stacking. Habit stacking is essentially where you build on an existing routine to add in a new, positive habit rather than trying to start a completely new routine. For example, you might use the cue of boiling the kettle in the morning to do 10 squats, or use the prompt of drinking a cup of coffee to form a gratitude practice. Read more about habit stacking here –
  • Be realistic about your time and commitments
  • To make goals and actions really work you have to be realistic and genuinely honest with yourself. If you’re a single parent of three then planning to do an hour’s morning run four times a week probably isn’t going to happen. It’s potentially a challenge even if you have a partner in the house! Think about your time and commitments and how you can make things work realistically. If you want to set up a meditation habit but have young children, it might be more realistic to a nighttime routine rather than one as the kids are waking up.
  • Review regularly and reset
  • Every successful person has encountered challenge and has had to reset themselves to achieve their goals. Set an intention to review your progress against your goals in a positive way each week. Resist the temptation to beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan. Try instead to constructively consider what has gone well, what hasn’t gone so well, any barriers you’ve encountered and how you can do things differently moving forward.
  • Don’t always measure the obvious!
  • Remember that progress doesn’t always manifest in obvious ways. For example, if you start a new exercise regime, the impact on the scale or on your waist size may not show for some time. However, you might start sleeping better, have an improved complexion or have increased energy. These are all subtle signs that it’s working so keep going!
  • Reward yourself for progress
  • All progress is progress, no matter how big or small and it’s brilliant! Reward yourself in any way that feels good for you. Whether it’s just cooking yourself a nice meal, taking a night off chores and curling up with a box set or taking a warm bath. Giving yourself a reward for committing to your new habits is a great way of training your brain in a positive way to stick at it!

Making change is never easy but by breaking it down, keeping things realistic and celebrating your wins are great places to start!

If you want one to one support to help identify and develop realistic goals or to work on habit change, consider wellbeing coaching with The Wellbeing and Wellness Coach. Email to find out more.