1. Start small and start with something you actually want to do. It takes time to build up to big lifestyle changes, so start small. Plan to workout 5-10 minutes every day for the next week, or to incorporate 1 extra vegetable into your day. In the beginning, don’t worry about taking the action that you think you should do, choose the thing that sounds most interesting or fun or reasonable to you. If yoga sounds better than running a 5K or doing a high intensity workout, try yoga first and reap the benefits of more movement in your life. You can always reevaluate and try something else. If you don’t currently eat many vegetables, don’t aim to fill your plate with them right away, just add a small serving to one meal and increase over time. You have your whole life to build these habits, you don’t have to start with something out of your reach or unenjoyable.
2. Make your early goals behavior-based, not results-based. Even if your ultimate goal is “I need to lose 20 pounds to get healthier,” focus on the healthy actions that will get you there rather than weighing yourself for the goal. You have much more control over how many minutes you spend actively moving in a week or how many servings of fruits and vegetables you eat than how much weight you will lose in a given time. Results-based goals can take time and can fluctuate up and down which can be demotivating. Instead, build up the healthy habits you want to cultivate long term, like more movement or more nutritious foods.
3. Celebrate every win. Regularly check in with yourself to see how the last day or week went and celebrate every single win. Since your goals are small, you should be able to check in with yourself pretty often to see how you’re doing. Make sure you notice when you meet a goal, no matter how small, and you congratulate yourself. Consider having a friend help with these check-ins if outside accountability would be helpful to you. They can give you the “pat on the back” that will motivate you to your next goal.
Bonus Tip: Focus on today’s choices. Try not to ruminate on past mistakes of what you did or didn’t do. You can’t change any of that, but you can choose how you act today. Every day, every minute, is an opportunity to make a new choice.