Around December 28 each year I receive phone calls from journalists seeking comments regarding New Years Eve. In particular, New Years Resolutions and why we are not successful in keeping them! Each year my answer is the same, most people don’t spend enough time planning for the changes they intend to make.
Behaviour change can be tricky – it isn’t just a case of deciding you’d like to start something new or tweak something you’ve been doing and then it just happening. The reality is that for behaviour change to stick it requires thought and planning.
You want to start or change the way you currently do something, perhaps you want to start exercising or improve your food choices. Your first consideration needs to be: Why haven’t I been doing that behaviour prior to now? The answers are crucial, because in part they will help you to understand your barriers to change.
When we know our barriers to change, we can plan ways in which we will overcome them. Consider the barriers below and some possible solutions.
|I don’t like exercising in the mornings||Exercise in the afternoons or evening|
|The morning is the only time I have to exercise, and I don’t like exercising in the mornings – it’s hard to get up!||Lay your clothes out the night before. Set the alarm and remind yourself that once your feet touch the floor, the hardest part is done!|
|I don’t know what exercises I should do, I’m not even sure where to start||See a qualified professional and have them design and teach you an exercise regime that will work for you|
|I’m not ready to start exercising, but I want to some day.||Perhaps start by increasing your incidental exercise – park further away at the shopping centre, hop off the bus one stop earlier, take the stairs rather than the lift or escalator.|
|I feel tired and sluggish in the afternoons and a chocolate bar always makes me feel better.||The sugar hit from the chocolate bar will be short lived – perhaps take some nuts or fruit or a yoghurt to work ready for your afternoon snack.|
|Once I start a packet of biscuits, I can’t stop||If you’re going to have a biscuit, take what you want to have out of the packet and put the remainder away in a slightly inconvenient spot – the harder you have to work to get to it, the more time you have to think about it and may change your mind.|
Do you make new year resolutions in 2011? I wonder what you were determined to do 6 months ago? Did you do it – for a while? Are you still doing it? The more time you can spend planning for how to make change work, the more likely you’ll achieve your goal.
Next week we’ll discuss the language around change. With a few simple phrases you can significantly increase the chances that you will make those changes.