How to Make Your Lifestyle Changes Stick

Changing your lifestyle isn’t like changing your hairstyle or picking out a new wardrobe for the season. It’s a huge decision and it requires no small measure of courage and determination. It also takes time, planning, and a strategy for making the changes last long-term instead of falling flat before you’ve reached your goals.

Every single year millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions. An incredibly common resolution is to lose weight and get fit. Workout clothes and healthy meal cookbooks sell like hotcakes. Gym membership sign-ups skyrocket. Healthy food flies off store shelves. A few weeks later gyms are less crowded and less than healthy food options start populating kitchen cabinets again. Why is that?

Many people overlook the power of planning and preparation. They know what they want and they go full-ball to try to get it but end up failing because there was no plan in place. To make change stick, you need a plan of action and I’m going to give you some tips for creating that plan for success.

Know and Understand Your Why

You know you want to lose weight or get fit but why do you want to do it. Without knowing what your why is and understanding that reason for making the change, your motivation deflates like a balloon at the first signs of struggle. To help you determine why you’re changing your lifestyle, as yourself:

  • What do you want to achieve, exactly?
  • Where do you want to see yourself a year down the line?
  • What about your goal matters to you?
  • What are the biggest changes that would happen in your life if you reached your goal?
  • Are you doing this for yourself or for others?
  • Who around you would reap the benefits if you reach your goal?

Your why is your motivation and without motivation, you have no reason to keep going when the going gets tough or if you just don’t feel like it on a particular day.

Set SMART Goals

Goal-setting is where so many people fall short. Setting goals the right way helps you create a roadmap to success. One popular way to successfully set the right goals and set them the right way is called the SMART method.

  • Make goals Specific. Don’t set wishy-washy vague goals like “lose weight” or “get fit”. How much weight? How fit, or what do you want to be able to do physically?
  • Set goals that are Measurable. How are you going to measure your progress toward success? How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal, what will indicate that?
  • Goals should be Achievable. Don’t fall into the trap of setting unrealistic goals you aren’t going to be able to reach.
  • Make goals Relatable. Every goal should be related to what you ultimately want to achieve or how you envision your life a year from now.
  • Set a Time limit for reaching a goal and make the time limit realistic.

Start Out Small

The concept of setting SMART goals supports creating smaller goals that add up to achieving a larger goal. However you envision your life in a year, every goal that will get you there needs to adhere to the principles of SMART goals.

Breaking a large task into smaller pieces has several advantages that will help you stay on track:

  • A large goal seems less insurmountable and more achievable.
  • You aren’t trying to bite off more than you can chew.
  • Every smaller goal you achieve boosts your motivation, increases determination, and prevents you from giving up because you feel like a failure for not achieving something you were working toward.

Change is an accumulative process, especially when it comes to your lifestyle. Making a small change and sticking with it allows you to form that good habit before trying to learn another one. Eventually, you’ll have picked up and managed to maintain several good habits which together support an overall healthy lifestyle.

Be Patient

The modern world has fostered a society of impatience. We want what we want and we want it right now. Unfortunately, several years or a lifetime of unhealthy habits and behaviors took a while to instill and it’s also going to take time to replace those behaviors with healthier ones. You need to set a time limit for reaching a goal but you need to be realistic about it and banish the desire for a quick fix.

Take it One Step at a Time

Part of being impatient and wanting to see results as quickly as possible is setting yourself too many goals to achieve at the same time. Think of your goals as grocery bags you need to carry into the house. You have far better chances of getting all the groceries safely into the house without dropping anything if you carry one bag at a time instead of trying to carry 10 bags all at once. Yes, it takes longer to get all the groceries into the house but that’s where patience comes in handy.

Keep a Record of Your Progress

You should be setting measurable goals and deciding how you’re going to measure your progress and success. That’s all good and well but documenting that is just as important. It gives you something to look back on to see how far you’ve come when your motivation falters. You can keep a journal, take your weight and measurements, do fitness tests and record the results, take before and progress photos. Find what works for you but keep track of the progress you make along the way.

Get Support

Social support is a huge factor in achieving success. Human beings are social creatures and we like to share our experiences with others, get advice, be encouraged, and just have a sympathetic ear to listen to us. Building a good support network, such as friends, family, online and in-person support groups, and even talking to your health professional is essential for reaching your goals.

Get a Lifestyle Change Buddy

Accountability can be tricky when you’re going it alone. After all, if nobody knows what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, who’s going to raise an eyebrow if you don’t stick to the plan? You might say that you’ll hold yourself accountable but that’s sometimes easier said than done when you don’t feel like exercising and a little voice says, “Nobody will know if I don’t exercise today.” The other perk of getting a buddy in on the action is that you can support and motivate each other. Motivation fluctuates, especially when you’re struggling to maintain your new habits. Having someone there nudging you along can make all the difference.

Celebrate Every Success

Acknowledge every goal you achieve as a success and reward yourself for it. It will make you feel good about the progress, boost motivation, and help you stick to the plan. When I say every goal, I mean it. You shouldn’t only be celebrating major milestones along your journey. You should also be celebrating the small achievements that keep you feeling good about yourself all the way through.

Final Word

Achieving long-term success is possible, no matter how big your ultimate goals are, but you have to set yourself up for that success by making changes the right way. You need to know why you’re doing it, where you’re going, and how to get there. You also need to know how to make the journey to your destination as easy as possible by putting a solid plan in place, not trying to rush things, and celebrating every win along the way.

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