Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Track Behavior Before You Change It!

January 1st, the New Year, the start of finally "getting healthy"... yup, that's right. It's time for New Years Resolutions or Goals. First of all, it is OK to not create a new goal for yourself for the year, and it is also ok to not create one until say, February or March. Setting goals is a healthy thing, no matter what time of the year it is!

 However, New Years Resolutions have become notorious for being "a joke"; they are something we tend to make but not actually follow through on in our life. So, before we get any closer to New Years, and you all creating some new goals for your life, I thought I would begin to discuss how to set yourself up for the greatest amount of success in meeting your behavior change goals.

Part of the reason why New Years Resolutions tend to not be followed through on is because the entire "behavior change process" isn't done in a successful manner. Have you ever heard the phrase "you can't change what you don't know"? (If you haven't, well, I guess you just did) That phrase really describes the entire behavior change process. People tend to just jump into behavior change without knowing how that behavior currently plays out in their life.

Here are a few steps to do BEFORE changing your behavior that will set you up for the greatest chance at success:

  1. Decide What Behavior You'd Like To Change: Obviously you'll need to choose a behavior or two that you would like to change. Make sure to not set too many, as it is easy to feel overwhelmed about the entire thing and quit.
  2. Track Your Current Behavior to Learn How It Plays Out In Life: That's right, I said track the behavior. Figure out what excuses you're making, what makes you less likely/more likely to engage in said behavior you'd like to change, and figure out what times of the day/situations/people won't aid this change. We engage in behaviors for a specific reason, and there is some benefit we get out of maintaining our present behavior. Figure out what that reason is! We need to know what our excuses are and what things make it difficult to be successful at that behavior change. Here's an example- I found myself eating a lot of unhealthy snacks when I got home from work while unwinding and cooking dinner. By the time I sat down for dinner, I wasn't all that hungry for the healthy stuff, and I felt frustrated by my lack of health. Because I took time to track behavior, I figured out that if I cut up veggies on Sunday nights, I would have a super easy and convenient healthy snack for myself. Tracking behavior is a crucial component for healthy behavior change, and it's often a step that people tend to skip. 
  3. Read Up and Educate Yourself On Your Desired Behavior Goal: If you want to start exercising, then look at the various exercise classes at a local gym to see if any interest you. Read up on various exercises and recommendations online. If you want to start eating healthy, look into some various meal plans and/or some healthy new foods and recipes to add into your meals. Spend some time getting to know what your behavior looks like as a "healthy behavior."
  4. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR YET. I know, I know. It's frustrating. Please be patient and track your behavior for a week or two and really get to know it. You'll most likely be MUCH more successful in the long run, and come into the behavior change experience feeling less frustrated and more prepared. 

So, over the next few weeks as you are itching to change your behavior, why not take some time to be proactive about your goals and set yourself up for the greatest amount of success possible? It's certainly not going to harm you...right? So give it a shot!

Now it's your turn:
Do you set goals for yourself for the New Year? If so, have you started to think about what behaviors you'd like to change or add into your life? 


  1. Great tip! I need to do some of this tracking business! I don't usually make resolutions, but this applies anytime. I like it!

  2. I need to get my butt up & moving more. Exercise of some sort. Not sure what type but, I need to work on it. My behavior now? Holding down my computer chair!

  3. Like Mimzy Wimzy, I need to do some sort of exercise. I am not overweight and do not need to diet, I just need to move because I tend to sit in front of a computer for most of the day.

  4. I like the idea of tracking the habit before making changes. I will give this tactic a try! :)


    p.s. I'm visiting from #commenthour (always takes me a few days to get to it!)