Making Changes: It’s the Small Things That Really Count*

Monday, 10 August 2015, By Leigh-Ann Scott

The pace of modern day life coupled with the advancements in technology mean that we want things fast; in fact we want things now! Changes we want to make are no different, whether it be losing weight, getting fitter, implementing a new system at work or upgrading to the latest iPhone or Fitbit that is released. Unfortunately for us change takes time and new habits and behaviours take lots of practice, and on most occasions some setbacks, before they become routine.

It generally requires a lot of hard work and self discipline to make positive changes in any area of life and that can be a big ask for many people with everything else going on, both in their own lives, and those around them. Too often people dive in head first without thinking about the consequences and the sacrifices that need to be made in order to make a successful change. The best way is to take small steps, baby steps if you like! "Fast is slow and slow is fast" is how the saying goes and slow, steady action is definitely more likely to lead to success and make you feel like you are winning in the long run.

 

Here are a few things to consider when you are look to make positive changes:

  

It's Not Easy But it's Simple!

 

We are always looking for the easiest, least painful scenario in any given situation as it's just the way us humans are wired. Think of the latest diet pill that comes on the market or the infomercials that show us how we are going to use the latest fold away exercise machine to get that six pack. Wouldn't it be great if were that easy? As that age old saying goes, "if its too good to be true then it probably is!" There is no substitute for sheer hard work, no matter what the goal is; however it's just about setting a plan and sticking to it. Try to include things you enjoy - so if you are working towards weight loss, include foods that you like and physical activities that you enjoy doing. Focus on goals that will help you set yourself up for success and are not just quick fixes but will give you a foundation for long lasting change.  

  

Be S.M.A.R.T.

 

This is where the plan comes into action. If you want to accomplish a goal, you need to have a specific and realistic plan. Things like making more money, leading a better quality of life, getting that job promotion or losing weight all need a plan that sets out the steps required to reach that particular goal. Get rid of vague ambitions like "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get fit" and instead focus on specific, measurable, concrete goals such as "I want to lose 10kgs" and "I want to run 5K without stopping", as it's proven there is a much greater chance of accomplishing a specific rather than a general goal.

These goals should also be realistic and have a time frame with manageable actions that you are confident you can reach, such as "I am giving up alcohol for July" or "I will do 3 runs per week for the next 4 weeks." Once you have ticked these off, you can move on to the next step and start to really build positive momentum towards that long term goal. Each small goal can be used as a stepping stone to get to the next and so on and before you know it that bigger, long term goal is closer than you realised.

  

Be Your Own Expert

 

Yes that's right, you know yourself more than anyone so who else can decide whether your goals are realistic and achievable better than you? No one! More often than not people can make things harder than they need to be or by playing below the line blaming, making excuses and being in denial about where they are at. This can lead to a negative mindset and just gets in the way of progressing towards goals. Be completely honest with yourself by deciding what is realistic and what you are ACTUALLY willing to do in order to make things happen. This is often linked to how strong your 'why' is towards a particular goal; if there is a stronger emotional attachment to a goal, the more of a priority it will be to push towards it. Compelling goals are definitely the best ones so have a real hard think about WHY you want to achieve your goal and note your strengths and weaknesses in being able to achieve it. If you constantly sleep through your alarm, is it a good idea to promise yourself you will run three times before work every week? Come on, get real with yourself!

  

Make Every Second Count

 

If your goal is so important to you, it should be at the forefront of your mind throughout the day, seven days a week. Every second can really make a difference so if your goal is fitness related, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalators or squeeze in a run rather than go for lunch with your colleagues. If your goal is a weight loss goal, should you really accept a biscuit being offered to you at an afternoon meeting or get in on the next round of drinks at the bar? Take a second to think about what you really want and how making these split second decisions could really impact on your results. A good idea might be to have some visual aids around you such as a screen saver on your phone or computer with you in that bikini or boardies when you were in your best ever shape. It could even be a picture of you at your worst in that photo you dread seeing if that's a better motivator for you. Another option might even be to have a "fitspiration" where you find your ideal body shape online or in a magazine to aim for. Belief is everything and you are feeling positive and in a great headspace, no biscuit or extra beer is worth comprising your success for. Nothing tastes as good as being lean, fit and strong feels!

  

Consistency and Perseverance Rather than Perfection

 

It takes 21 days to create a habit and change behaviours. As much as many people want to do things perfectly, the likelihood of being able to attain that level and then do it over a sustained period is very unrealistic for the majority. Therefore, as much we know people want things as quickly as possible these days, a lot of patience is required when working towards goals. It's unlikely there will be significant changes straight away and so small goals that can be ticked off along the way to the bigger goals are much more effective in maintaining a high degree of confidence and motivation to reach the end result. It's not about being perfect but its about doing your absolute best on a consistent basis. Even if there is a setback along the way (and yes we all do it!), it's about persevering, getting back on track as soon as possible and moving towards the next goal to be ticked off. Recording in a journal/diary is a great way of measuring progress and is good to look back at to see how far you have come since you started. It's also invaluable at tracking what's working and what's possibly not working, along with the accountability that comes with it.

 

 Celebrate

 

We are quick to focus on the negatives when we fall short of goals but we quite often forget to celebrate and give ourselves a pat on the back when we achieve them, even if it's just small ones. This is crucial for staying on track for the long haul and just like our childhood, we respond well to being rewarded for good behaviour; so ensure you take time to give yourself that reward to keep your unconscious mind striving towards these healthy behaviours on an ongoing basis. It could be something simple such as downloading a new album on ITunes or taking yourself for a well earned massage. Be kind to yourself and your body and mind will be kind to you!

  

Love Yourself

 

No matter what, you are the most important person in both setting and achieving your goals, so make sure you focus on loving yourself and making choices that make you feel great both inside and out. We love to feel accomplished and there are not many better feelings than hitting goals, especially after lots of hard work. So what are you waiting for? Go for it - move forward in the direction you want to go and be the creator of the most healthy, positive and fulfilling life you can imagine for yourself!  

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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