By Sheri Taylor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Do you ever feel like you know what you “should” be doing, but feel like you aren’t motivated enough to make it happen? Habits and behaviours can be hard to change. So whether you are trying to exercise more, lose a few pounds or do the rehab exercises for your dodgy knee, there is one simple “hack” that can actually make changing your behaviour a reality.
Make your goal RIDICULOUSLY small.
I’m talking so small, that even on your worst day, when you are stressed out and haven’t slept and are coming down with the flu, you are still able to accomplish it. Floss 1 tooth. Drive past the gym on the way home from work. Choose a snack-sized chocolate bar instead of a full-sized one. You are allowed to EXCEED this goal whenever you want, but make the goal so small that it is impossible to fail.
You may be thinking, “Well what is the point of that? Driving past the gym isn’t going to improve my health!” That is true, but that isn’t the point of this activity. The point is to make sure you succeed, because if you succeed, it will boost your confidence and you will want to keep going with a slightly bigger goal next week. That effect tends to snowball until you are actually making the change that you want to make.
This technique was originally developed by Dr. BJ Fogg, from Stanford University, but I’ve used this method countless times (both personally and professionally), and know that it works. As a general rule, people greatly overestimate what they are able to accomplish. So if your first goal is going to the gym 3 times per week for 45 minutes, what are you going to do if you become ill, or have to work late or your car breaks down? When people don’t succeed with their goal immediately, the temptation is to give up and to start telling themselves that they “can’t” do it. This just stops them from trying again in the future.
If you are like me, going from doing nothing (eg. Sitting on the sofa), to doing something (eg. walking), is monumentally difficult. But once you are already in the habit of walking 5 minutes once per week, it doesn’t feel like nearly as much effort to start walking 6 minutes once per week….and then 10 minutes. Asking a friend or colleague to check in with you once per week to see if you’ve actually met your ridiculously small goal is also helpful. Knowing that someone will be checking on you adds an extra incentive and keeps the goal in the forefront of your mind.
Here are Core Clinics, we are committed to helping you set and achieve your health and lifestyle goals. We provide the most up-to-date and effective strategies to help you heal chronic pain, lose weight and start becoming more physically active. To make an appointment, please contact our reception staff at 01926 801 111.
Do you have any other “hacks” that you’ve found helpful in boosting motivation? Please share your experience in the comments below.