Leverage Goal-Setting to Form New Habits
We all have goals in our life that we cannot seem to reach. Maybe your goal is to exercise more, or eat more fruits and vegetables each day. You know that the key to reach your goals is to form new habits that will help you to feel happier and healthier, but you cannot seem to get moving towards them.
If you are struggling to make progress towards your goals, perhaps the problem isn’t a lack of motivation or willpower. Perhaps the problem is your goal-setting process.
In this post, you’ll learn how to set goals that will help you get from where you are now to where you want to be by transforming them into your new habits.
Step One: Find Your Motivation
The first step in forming new habits is finding your motivation. Why do you want to eat more veggies each day? Is it because you want more fiber in your diet? Do you want to get your vitamins and minerals from food and not your daily multivitamin? Perhaps it’s because you know it just makes you feel better. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, but knowing, and remembering, the why will help you when it is time to make small changes.
Step Two: Make a Plan
You have your motivation, now you need to make a plan. What small change can you make every day that will help you reach your goal? Whatever small change you make, it has to be specific to you and your goals. What works for your friend may not work for you. Also, the change you decide to make has to be something you can realistically do.
Let’s think back to the goal of eating more fruits and vegetables every day. If this is your goal and you do not eat any fruits and vegetables right now, a small change might be to eat a half-cup of vegetables with your dinner (or to try a new veggie-heavy recipe). This may not seem like a lot but setting a realistic goal that you can easily achieve will give you momentum. Once you have established this new, small change as a habit, you can build on it to increase the amount of vegetables you eat even more.
If you’re looking for more small change ideas, Choose My Plate is an excellent resource that can give you more ideas to get you started.
Step Three: Small, Consistent Changes
The next step is making the small changes that you have planned. Every time you make one small change, you are one step closer to reaching your goal, and forming new habits. Life happens and there may be times you get off track. That’s okay! Remember, you are making small changes that are customized to you and your lifestyle. You aren’t on a diet and you are not following an instruction manual. Revisit your motivation for wanting to make these changes and set a goal (see step two!) to get back on track with your plan. The more consistently you make the small changes that you planned, the closer it becomes to a habit.
Step EVERYTHING: Be Proud of Yourself
The most important step in forming new habits is being proud of yourself. Changing old habits and creating new ones is hard. Sometimes you won’t follow your plan, but that is okay. If you miss a couple opportunities for making small changes, you can still reach your goal. Each win you have is greater than any struggle. Remember your motivation, plan, and practice consistency. But above all else, be proud of every win you have and forgive yourself for every struggle to form new habits.
Looking for support as you form new habits?
Learn how food-positive, body-positive nutrition counseling can give you the support you need to make your goals a reality. Book a free consultation with a registered dietitian today!
About the Author
Kayla Varnell, BS
I am from Grand Prairie, TX. I came to Austin for my bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Texas at Austin. After working a couple of years in the nutrition field, I started my Master’s degree in Human Nutrition at Texas State University, which I will receive this month! I am almost finished with my dietetic internship and will soon take the certifying exam to become a registered dietitian. When I am a registered dietitian, I hope to work in the community to help people figure out how they can feel healthier and happier through food.