The driving force behind you achieving your goal is motivation. You need to be mindful of where your motivation is on the scale or 0 to 10 as spoken about in ‘New year’s goals not resolutions series – How to create meaningful goals’. Just because motivation starts off high, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay high. Your motivation should be high after understanding you have the resources to overcome barriers that may pop up during your change journey. Motivation can improve and remain after measuring your progress and reviewing your action plan regularly. Nothing is more motivating when you see your behaviour changing, reflecting how far you’ve come and reaching your goal and milestones along the way. Celebrating the little wins along the way helps keeps you fresh and ready to tackle the next challenge.
1. Measuring Progress
Measuring progress is an important step in the action plan you have developed, as you will understand you are making progress and have actually achieved your goal.
Some ways to measure progress:
- Using pen and paper to update a calendar or chart
- Using graphs or maps
- Using electronic methods, calendar reminders, smartphone apps or watches
- Tracking feeling, thoughts, hunger and satiety
- Scoring pain, mood, energy on a scale of 0 to 10
- Accumulating marbles, buttons, coins
- Using a reward system – star chart, cash, other
2. Review Plan
How often will you review your plan? Reviewing your action plan keeps it fresh and challenging. Reviewing your plan will help you to understand when you need to add more strategies to the plan – to edge you closer to achieving your goal. If you have achieved all your strategies, have you achieved your goal? This is why it is important to keep checking in. If you don’t keep challenging yourself, you won’t change for the better.
“Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn
3. Relapse Prevention
With action planning, it is important to plan for potential triggers for lapses. It is helpful to focus on any behaviours and thinking patterns that may trigger or further derail your great efforts. Planning to practise relapse prevention is an important strategy that will further improve your chances of achieving your goal.
Relapses are part of change. It’s what you do with the relapse that means so much. Take for example the metaphor I have used before of driving your car from Cairns to Sydney. On your journey, you get a flat tyre in Brisbane. You don’t throw your hands up…Well, you might. But you don’t drive back to Cairns to then start your journey south again. Be thankful your ‘tyres’ got you this far. Same as your nutrition progress. Just refocus, use the off-track period as a valuable learning experience and continue on with your healthy behaviours in your action plan, until the next challenging situation arises and hopefully you are better equipped to deal with your new nutrition skills.
It is helpful to take a trial and error approach to achieving your goals just like with any plan you make as you don’t know what the future holds. You can only plan for so much. As time goes on your action plan needs to be reviewed to ensure it is up to date and still relevant for changes in circumstances.
Example of trial and error thinking which leads to achieving a goal:
- Develop goal
- Develop action plan
- Try the strategies
- Keep using the strategies that work and change the ones that don’t
- Track your progress
- Review goals regularly
- Build on strategies when ready
- Incorporate new goal(s) when ready.
Seeking expert opinion is a great way to boost your motivation and kick-start your behaviour change process. An Accredited Practising Dietitian can help you achieve your nutrition and health goals.
Rewarding yourself throughout the behaviour change process with preferably non-food items (you’re not a dog!) or experiences is a great way to keep your motivation high.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” ― Abbie Hoffman
How do you feel after ‘digesting’ this series? Are you ready for the challenges of improving your nutrition and/or health? How important is your goal to you? How confident are you now? Start your health journey now, this is your next important step – Don’t get hung up on perfecting goals and action plans. As Jeff Goins said, “Start moving, you can always change direction”.