Eat better, exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking. Sound familiar? One of these classic resolutions may be on your self-improvement list for the coming year.
Let’s be realistic but also optimistic: Changing old habits is incredibly hard, but you can do it.
The following four strategies can help you make lasting lifestyle changes:
- Focus on one change at a time. Start with the one goal that’s most important for you. People run into problems when they try to change too much too fast.
- Aim big, start small. Yes, a grand goal is great. But it’ll be less intimidating and frustrating if you break it into specific, small, doable steps. “Losing 30 pounds” becomes “I’d like to lose 2 to 3 pounds this month.” “Eating better” becomes “I’ll start with fixing a healthy breakfast all this week.”
- Work with a buddy. Some people enlist a friend or co-worker to be a coach, cheerleader, sounding board or fellow goal-seeker. For others, a “buddy” is a group exercise class or a stop-smoking support group. The key message: Support and accountability boost the likelihood of success.
- Keep going. Even if you stumble, get up and dust off your dreams. Is your goal worth attaining? If so, recommit, refocus and try again.