Whether your goals include things like running an ultramarathon or getting up earlier so you’re not running out the door at the last minute every day, we all know that reaching our goals require changing what we do day-to-day.
Learning how to make those changes has always been easier said than done.
I’m reviewing How to Change by Katy Milkman and sharing with you 7 tips that will help you make the necessary changes to reach your goals.
You can listen to the episode here…
Or keep reading the post below:
Seven Keys to Change
Make Change Enjoyable in the Moment
Rather than trying to make the pursuit of your goal more enjoyable in the moment, you try to just use willpower and discipline alone to reach it.
You’re much more likely to be successful if you stop overestimating your willpower and spend more energy figuring out how to make the process more enjoyable.
One way to do this is through something called temptation bundling where you pair something that you enjoy with something that you know you should do,, but isn’t quite as enjoyable.
For example, if you want to watch the next episode of your favorite Netflix series, take the laptop into the kitchen and watch as you prep your meals for the week.
Another way to make the process more enjoyable is by turning it into a game.
If one of your goals is to increase your step count each day, create a challenge and get your friends or coworkers in on it. By turning it into a game (and competition) you’re more likely to enjoy the process and stick to your commitment.
Use Self-imposed Constraints
Milkman refers to these as commitment devices that help you avoid temptation and reduce your freedoms (in a positive way) in pursuit of the goal.
The commitment device will lock you into the choices you know you need to make, when we’re clear headed about what’s good for you, rather than relying on willpower to help you react the way you hope you will when faced with a temptation.
For example, if you want to stop hitting snooze every morning and stick to your commitment of getting your workout in before work, consider putting your alarm clock somewhere away from your bed. If you have to get up to turn it off, you’re much more likely to stay up rather than rolling over and telling yourself you’ll get to the workout later.
Creating cues is very similar to the process of habit stacking. It becomes sort of an “when I do X, I will also do Y” situation where you will build off of a already established pattern or habit to remind you to do something else that you want to implement.
An example of this would be building the habit of taking a daily multivitamin. Since it’s not something you have done in the past, it’s easy to forget, but you’re not likely to forget your morning cup of coffee.
So let your coffee maker serve as the cue to take your vitamin by placing the bottle next to your coffee cup so when you go to fill it up in the morning, you reminded to also take your vitamins.
Build Routines & Track Progress
This likely sounds like common sense. Of course you need to build routines and track progress to make change, but it really is more nuanced than that.
For so many people the process of building new routines can get derailed by old habits if you aren’t making an effort to create new habits.
It’s also important to remember that while routine is important, it shouldn’t be so rigid that you’re incapable of being flexible when life throws you a curveball.
So if you are trying to get into new routines, it’s important to realize that while you may want to workout at 7am, eat breakfast at 8am, and be out the door by 9am, life may not always fall into that pattern and you need to have the ability to give a little.
That’s not to say you throw the whole plan out the window, but rather allow yourself the flexibility to shorten your workout or have an alternative breakfast option that’s quick to grab on the go. You’ll still keep the routine and work towards building the habit without it being so rigid that if something doesn’t go exactly to plan that you just throw in the towel.
Get & Give Advice
A lack of self-efficacy, or confidence in the ability to control your own behavior, motivation and circumstances, prevents you from setting goals in the first place.
Something that can help you build your own confidence is advising other people.
There have been studies where the subjects that they were either offering advice to other people or receiving advice and it has been shown that the people who offered advice were more motivated than the other way around.
Cultivate Social Circle
You need to surround yourself with people who buoy your belief in yourself, who recognize your potential, and who support your goals.
Milkman discusses using the “copy & paste” method to imitate those around your that have worked towards similar goals and reached them.
I would caution you to make sure you are imitating people who you know have reached those goals in a sustainable way and are being honest in their attempts, misses, and successes.
The internal obstacles to change, don’t just go away and it’s normal to fall out of these habits without upkeep.
This is also what so many people are missing with the transition to maintenance is your health needs to be a priority in your life forever.
Just because you reach your weight loss goal or stop taking certain medications, you don’t get to flip a switch and stop caring about your overall health.
You do this by tailoring your approach to what’s going on in your life at this moment.
You work on building skills and developing tools, that you can pull from when you need to switch up the approach you are taking based on where you are in the moment.
This requires your to continually take stock of how your actions are either pushing you towards your goals or pulling your further away and adjusting to stay the course.
If you’re interested in learning more about making lasting change in your life, our Gone for Good program is exactly what you need. We will guide you through the necessary steps with comprehensive support to help you reach your goals. Check out estheravant.com/coaching for more info.