Habits for Success – Set Realistic Goals and Start Slow

what do you want to changeIf you want to make significant changes that last, it’s better to start small and work your way up. Our brain is wired to adapt to incremental changes and repetition. If you start taking small steps toward a bigger goal, your brain will begin to develop new neural pathways that make achieving that goal easier. You’ll notice that what once seemed difficult becomes more routine. Jumping right in can overstimulate your brain and cause resistance. Small steps do add up. Work on each one until it becomes automatic.

Consider your lifestyle, personality, and abilities when setting goals. Having goals in life is smart. It gives us something to shoot for and increases our chances of success. If you want success with habits, set realistic goals. Find ways to sneak new habits into what you’re already doing.

You’ve set a goal, but do you have a plan. You’re finally going to address that habit. You know the one. You’ve been talking about doing this for a long time now, and you feel good because now you have a deadline. You’ve got this handled.

Or do you?

Whether you’re trying to break an old habit or instill a new one, the thought has always been that if you make a definite decision toward change, that’s already half the battle. But more often than not, these lofty goals fall by the wayside in short order. Why?

The problem with goal setting is that we’re focusing on the wrong goal. We say we want to lose 25 pounds by swimsuit season or to stop smoking by Christmas. But without a plan in place to make that happen, nothing happens, even if you have what seems like a reasonable timeline in place.

What you forgot was how to make a plan, a roadmap for getting there.

So, what can you do?

  1. Break down the task into small goals. If you want to lose those 25 pounds, then how are you going to do it? Maybe you want to exercise more and watch your diet. Make a goal for each week instead. For this particular goal, that might mean changing out a meal for a protein shake every day and going to the gym three times a week. Whatever your goal, figure out the steps you need to get there.


  1. Put those tasks on a schedule. Now that you know what the pieces are, how are you going to make them fall into place? If you’re planning on going to the gym three times a week, then put that on your calendar. Or create a meal plan and post it somewhere you’re going to see it.


  1. Track your Progress. Change is slow, so having a visual cue will help you see that, in fact, you are making positive strides toward your goal. Remember those sticker charts we had as children? They work on adults too. Or mark on your calendar so you can see at a glance when you’re making progress.


  1. Don’t worry about the end date. Maybe progress might not be as fast as you’d like. The fact that you’re making progress means you’re heading in the right direction. Keep going!


You can change habits with time and effort. In this case, though, it’s more about the journey more than the destination. Make a solid plan, and whatever your goal, you’ll get there. “Yes, you can do better and be better.”

Should you need help setting up your personal action plan, contact me.