There’s an old joke: how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but they really, really have to want to change. We all want to change our lives. The change you want to make may be small (drink more water, give up biscuits) or large (lose weight, stop smoking, run a marathon, get a new job). Our change plan can be used on all of them. Before you begin, work out exactly what is stopping you. On the right-hand side of a piece of paper write a list of why you don’t run everyday, eat healthily or what stops you looking for a new job. On the left-hand side write solutions to each of the problems. Now you have built in solutions to the obstacles that are stopping you achieving what you want. Here our 11 point change plan.
- One thing at a time. Instead of making drastic changes, break things down and do it in stages.
- Identify your triggers. Keep a diary for a week to help identify what triggers behaviours you want to change. Then plan replacements for those triggers.
- Make posistive plans. You are not giving up things but doing new things.
- Get equipped. Download a fitness app to your smartphone, get a notebook to keep a food diary, sign up to a jobs website. This acts as a signal to show that you are getting into the right mind frame to make a change.
- Break it down into small steps. Work out the steps involved in getting to your target and then start with the smallest step.
- Write your plan down. This is a promise to yourself. Put the plan where you will see it often.
- Record the “now”. Take pictures, record your weight, keep a work diary, note how long you can run for. Once a week update your record.
- Reward yourself. Find good rewards and use them once a week, not just at the end: a new running top or a lipstick, a trip to the cinema.
- Tag it. Adding your new habit to something you already do is called tagging. Place your car keys on top of a box of healthy snacks to remind you to take them to work.
- Make it regular. Habits are inbuilt. Your new good habits need a regular slot. After a while you will do it automatically.
- Make new habits the norm. This is called “choice architecture” in behaviour change jargon. It’s simple. Arrange your own “choice architecture”. Store only healthy snacks in your cupboards. Make getting changed for your run quick and easy by having your gear out and ready.