- Posted by Marcelle Crinean
- On 2nd April 2018
Top tips for long-lasting change
January, the door to a new year and the start of new beginnings, is a time when many of us decide to make changes to our lives – perhaps to get fitter, lose weight or eat more healthily, to be more organised, or to save more money. Whatever that change is, it’s no coincidence that more than 80% of New Year’s Resolutions have failed by the beginning of February. We mistakenly believe our ‘failure’ to change is because we’re ‘willpower weaklings’ or have somehow exhausted our limited supply of motivation.
In fact, motivation and willpower have very little to do with creating long-lasting and sustainable change. If you want to make change stick in 2018, here’s my top 5 tips:
1. Choose only ONE thing to change
Many people make the mistake of changing too many things at a time – for example, a common resolution is “I’m going to go the gym 3 times a week, eat healthily and stop drinking alcohol”. This is far too overwhelming for the brain. Pick one thing to change, and no more.
Why do you want to change? What are the benefits to you of this change? For example, you might want to get fitter so you have more energy to play with the kids, or you want to reduce the risk of heart disease, or maybe you just want to fit into your jeans. Whatever it is, you’re more likely to achieve something you WANT rather than something you HAVE TO do. And keep reminding yourself of these benefits – especially when you’re tired, and it’s cold outside and the last thing you want to do is go running!
3. Baby Steps
Once you’ve decided on the one thing you’re going to change, break it down into baby steps. And I mean the SMALLEST steps you can. For example, if your goal is to get fitter, you might decide to go running 3 times a week. What’s the first step you need to take? That could be putting your running shoes on, or buying running shoes in the first place!! Then get agreement from your brain that all you’re going to do is that first baby step. It’s got to seem so easy that your brain laughs at you – “Is that it? I’ve just got to put my running shoes on? Easy!”. Once you’ve mastered the first step, get agreement from your brain for the next step, and so on.
4. Believe you can
Belief is a critical element of change. As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Your brain will believe whatever you tell it, so if you tell yourself that you’re never going to be able to run for 30 minutes, your brain will believe you. Whereas, if you tell yourself that you can run for 5 minutes today, and you will improve – it will believe that instead.
5. Visualise success
For example, if your desire is to be slimmer, imagine yourself the way you want to look, in the clothes you want to wear, doing all the things you want to be doing (this will help with ‘belief’). But more importantly visualise all the elements of how you’re going to achieve this – for example, imagine yourself eating smaller portions of healthy foods, eating slowly, and enjoying every mouthful; imagine yourself saying ‘no’, and being happy with saying ‘no’, etc. etc. The more specific, and the more information you can give your brain about HOW to achieve your desired outcome, the better your chance of success.
Good luck and let me know how you get on!