Spring goals: setting yourself up for success
Wanting to eat better, move more, stress less and expand your skills and knowledge in a particular topic or field isn’t necessarily about pure will power. It’s about taking time to work out how you can set yourself up for success. You may need to reorganise your physical space, gather some resources in a particular place to be readily available and schedule timeslots and reminders into your calendar, all to help make doing something as doable as possible. Some tips and strategies are outlined below.
Attach a new action to an existing one
For success, attach the new action to something else you do regularly. For example, if you want to have a nutrient rich smoothie every day then make it when you are making your first coffee of the day and then it’s ready to sip later. If you want to meditate in the morning but usually pick up your phone, then click on the meditation app first rather than email or socials. When you have an afternoon tea/coffee break sip your drink whilst taking a walk around the block. Do some squats whilst brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil.
Swap one not so good thing for a better thing
Instead of vegging out on the sofa scrolling or watching TV, sit there and do a meditation or mindfulness practice or your hobby like knitting, painting etc. Instead of driving to the station or shop, can you walk? Instead munching on crips, try some dried beans and pulses or unsalted nuts. Swap a glass of prosecco for sparkling water flavoured with a fruit slice or mint leaf. Swap caffeinated drinks for decaf. Instead of socialising at the coffee shop or pub can you get your friends to do an exercise class or play sport with you once a week?
Only try one new action / habit at a time so it’s not overwhelming.
Start with only taking 5 or 10 minutes to do something then you know you can push through it even if you don’t feel like it.
Only plan to do a class or go to the gym once a week at first so it’s doable in your current schedule.
Try having one out of three healthy meals to start with or cutting out one unhealthy snack per day.
Don’t try to do a whole course on a new subject do one module to start with.
Over time, you’ll actually want to do more and you will find the time.
Clean out your pantry. Take out all the unhealthy products you don’t want to eat any more. Give them away to others or save in a large, sealed box for treats to give visitors or yourself occasionally. Throw out anything that has expired.
Clean out your fridge. Take one last week to eat anything that won’t be on your healthy list.
Google recipes with the types of ingredients you want to use.
Make a list of healthy meals and snacks that you will make and eat. Now make a shopping list to match.
Have healthy snacks in your workplace like unsalted nuts, rice cakes, dried beans and pulses. Put hummus, smashed avocado, veg sticks and fruit in your home or work fridge for snacks. Buy new airtight containers for these if needed.
Once your fridge and pantry are full of your desired items it will be easy to stay on your new eating plan.
Have whatever equipment you need for the type of exercise you are going to do in an easily accessible place. For example, keep your yoga mat, tennis racket, bowling ball, swimming gear etc in your car ready to go to a class or match. Have your trainers ,walking boots, waterproof coat near the door ready to go out.
Google online exercise classes and/or workplace stretches and bookmark the one/s you like for easy access.
Google a class in your area that you want to do, book it and pay upfront for motivation to attend.
Put your exercise activity into your calendar and treat it as an appointment so when asked to do something by someone else, you can say you aren’t available. Put a reminder in too so you are alerted to do it.
Stress reducing practice
Find an app for meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing or visualisation and put a reminder in your calendar to practice it daily / weekly.
If a hobby like knitting, painting, fishing is going to be your stress reducer then gather your equipment into one container and have ready to use.
Learning a new skill
Find a book, online resource, class, coach or mentor on the skill you want to learn.
Get together everything you need and then plan out your steps.
Think about doing one concept or module at a time .
Get a jounral to record ideas for implementing and then implementing something before moving on another concept.
Be kind to yourself
Remember, when maintaining and starting something new, it’s important to give yourself some leeway and know that you won’t be perfect all the time. Life gets in the way, so if you have a miss an exercise or do eat something more indulgent don’t worry. Think about if you need to adjust your schedule, change something in your environment or get support. Implement what you need and start again.
Over to you
What new action/habit to do you want to start?
How will you set yourself up for success?
You can find a good list of books about forming new habits here.