Dr. Richa Mittal
"I should start cooking more."
"I should exercise more."
"I should start reading more."
We all say things to ourselves constantly about the changes we should and want to make. Whether it is to eat healthier, exercise more, make a change in our career, or to be more patient- what holds us back?
Why does it seem like such a daunting task?
We are so limited on time between work, family, and social life- how can we make effective changes to improve our lives?
How do we bridge that space between idea and reality?
Here are some ideas:
1) Involve your partner: Studies show that a person is more likely to make a positive health behavior change when their partner does too. Discuss with your partner why you want to make a change and see if you can motivate them as well. If they are not on board right off the bat, don't worry. Maybe YOUR success and diligence will motivate THEM.
2) Find your motivation: Think about what you value and why you want to make the change you are contemplating. WRITE DOWN a few key words on a sticky note and put them on your bathroom mirror where you can see them every day. Remind yourself that you are not being forced to make this change- you are choosing to do this!
3) Start small: Know where you want to end up, but don't pressure yourself to get there tomorrow. Understand that change behavior happens slowly and if you want to make it stick, it has to be realistic. You want to be more mindful? Start with 5 minutes of quiet time daily and slowly increase by 5 minutes a week.
3) Have a plan: This one takes some work. You will not be successful unless you have a plan. We are good at scheduling things- so why not do this for change behaviors as well? Put 15 minutes of walking on your calendar daily. If you are trying to cook more often, sit down on a weekend and make a plan for two days that you are going to cook. Get the right groceries and maybe prep a few items so it's not as hard when you walk in the door after a long day of work.
4) Have a back up plan!: So you are invited out to dinner with friends and there are NO "good" options at the new hot restaurant in town. Are you going to sabotage yourself? Or can you look ahead at the menu and anticipate what your alternatives are? Maybe you have a healthy meal at home beforehand and order a side to munch on with your friends. Or you are traveling for work and you can't find time to exercise. Have a plan to wake up 10 minutes earlier and use a towel as a mat. Get in some planks, squats and push-ups- you will if you have a back up plan!
5) Reward yourself: Don't take for granted the small changes you make. They are steps you are making toward life-long habits and change. If you told yourself you would read every day for 20 minutes for 5 days in a row, congratulate yourself! Maybe you reward yourself with a massage at your favorite spa.
6) Find your support: Tell a friend what you want to change and why. Ask them to help you be accountable and maybe they even might make the change with you. Maybe even make it a challenge to see who can stick to the plan!
7) Be grateful: Recognize what you already have and what you are have already accomplished. Be grateful for the gifts and opportunities you already have- know that you can use that position you start from to accomplish the change you want. Know that others in less fortunate situations have an even harder time.
8) Expect setbacks: Know that you will stumble. You will face obstacles and you won't always do the "right" thing. Forgive yourself and look forward. Use your experience to make a better plan moving forward and TRY AGAIN.
Wake up each day knowing that you can start again and be successful if you know what it is you want to change and know why you want to do it. Build a supportive environment by surrounding yourself with people who want you to succeed and most importantly, be kind to yourself when you fall short, and try again!