Making new habits and goals doesn’t have to be hard and shouldn’t involve anything you don’t want to do. Here’s our practical advice on how to stick to meaningful changes in behaviour and a few ideas of things you can do to promote health and fitness.
1. Start small: Many people don’t manage to change their behaviour because their goal might seem far away or too big to achieve. While setting a big goal is important, starting small helps you maintain focus and control. You can set smaller goals that are stepping-stones to the big ones. For example, maybe you want to complete 15 pull-ups without a break; set your first target as five unassisted pull-ups and slowly increase from there. Remember to celebrate those small wins!
2. Create an environment that supports your goals: This is always tough, but arguably the most important. Everything around you is your environment, which can determine things like access and motivation. If your goal is to cut down on sugar, you may choose to not have sweets in your house to help you maintain this habit.
3. Focus on what you can control: Life throws things at us. It’s not all plain sailing and good habits aren’t easy to manage! Let’s use the 15 pull-ups goal as an example again; there’s a small chance you could injure yourself. This isn’t always controllable, so think about what else you can still do to work towards that goal. Perhaps you increase your cardio and rotator cuff strength sessions? How about a few extra core sessions? Control what you can, but try not to let life’s obstacles throw you off course!
4. Reward yourself: Usually it takes a few changes in habits to nail your goal and it’s important to reward the small wins (as well as the big ones!). Perhaps you’re seeing some strength gains in the gym or have shaved a few extra seconds off your 5km time. You might not have hit that goal yet, but you’re on your way! Reward yourself with a meal out, a few beers – whatever helps motivate you.
5. Make a complete goals list: Write your goals down and work back from there to see what you need to do to achieve them. This could be five or six different goals to achieve your big goal or perhaps you need to change some bad habits into good ones. For example, if you’re aiming to complete your first 100km cycle sportive, you may want to start with a habit of consistently cycling to work. You may then want to complete a 50km ride in 2-3 months and continue to build from there. Write your steps down and cross them off as you go.
Stuck for ideas?
Goals don’t always have to be winning something or completing a marathon! Here are a few manageable ones that may be the first step for you living a healthier lifestyle.
Learn a new skill: This doesn’t have to be a new sport; it could be a new instrument or joining a new club. You’d be surprised with what you can learn and how rewarding it can be!
Get outside: Spending more time outside can be beneficial to mental health and is bound to get you moving more and seeing new things. You never know what you might end up doing!
Move more: It doesn’t need to be strenuous all the time. Maybe it's fitting an extra gym session per week; an extra yoga class or even some light chair-based exercises every day.
Prioritise sleep: Sleep is when our body adapts and recovers. Prioritising sleep can aid weight loss, performance, and mental health. Create a good environment for sleeping, focus on nutrition and your bedtime routine.
Give back: You may want to prioritise something other than exercise and nutrition. Giving back could be a charitable donation, donating your clothes or unwanted items, or making small lifestyle changes to benefit the environment.