Have you seen the movie “What About Bob?” If not, I highly recommend it! Starring Bill Murray as Bob and Richard Dreyfuss as Dr. Leo Marvin, it’s a funny and sweet movie about Bob overcoming his multiple neuroses with the help of Dr. Marvin’s book, "Baby Steps”. Check out this movie clip on YouTube.
What does this have to do with habits? Well, studies show that long-lasting habit change comes by implementing our desired change one small step at a time. How often have you decided you wanted to read more or eat healthier or be more in control of your finances and made multiple and drastic changes from your current ways to this desired new way in one day and then find two weeks later you’re back to your old ways? This has definitely been me. Anyone else? 🙋🏼🙋🏼♂️🙋🏼♀️
As I’m learning more about lasting habit change and applying that information to my life, I am finding success with making changes at a baby step pace. This is by making small changes one change at a time.
Small changes. With my current “get healthy” goal, I’ve set My Fitness Pal™ to calculate my number of daily calories based on losing one half pound a week. Do I want to lose more than half a pound per week? Absolutely! Have I found that I have rarely successfully gone from eating an excess of daily calories to cutting them by over 1,000 calories a day? Yes! Even when I was able to do it, I’ve never sustained it for longer than six months. So, while getting to my goal weight by losing half a pound a week will take much longer than if I aimed for losing two pounds a week, I am finding that I’m actually sticking to my daily calorie target – often times staying below it. I am on the path to actually reach my goal instead of abandoning it!
One step at a time. The second part of baby steps is making the change one step at a time. With my weight loss example, in the past, I would go from being a couch potato eating food delivery most nights to eating all things healthy, drinking tons of water and exercising overnight. But again, I never sustained this. Our brains don’t like change and want us to keep doing what we had been doing. Plus, our brains like the path of least resistance, drawing us to rest so that we’re able to respond quickly when the T-Rex happens upon our cave.🦖 In my current personal example, once I had consistently met my first goal of staying within my daily calorie range, I added my next goal. In addition to continuing to stay within my daily calorie range, I started striving to meet a specific macro mix each day. I’m still working on this one! Once I’ve successfully been consistent with both of those new habits, I’ll add the next… and so on.
Combining the baby steps technique with positive affirmations (see last week’s blog) has been a game changer for me! I began my journey with this new mindset right after Thanksgiving last year and have seen results, not just with my weight, but in adopting habits that will become who I am and not short-term actions until I hit my goal.
Are you wanting to change some habits for the long-term? I encourage you to check out these resources:
Brain by Design, James Garrett – www.brainbydesign.com, Facebook, Instagram
“Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything” by BJ Fogg, PhD
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
Acknowledge and celebrate your success! Picture a baby learning to walk. Surrounded by proud parents and other loved ones, the baby is cheered and applauded for getting in a couple of steps before tumbling to the ground. Videos are texted to family and friends, the baby hugged and told how great they are and there may even be a reward treat involved. While “just” a couple of steps, people are excited! At what point in life do we stop celebrating “small” accomplishments? And why? As we work on changing our habits one small step at a time, we need to pause now and again to acknowledge our accomplishment. It could be as simple as a “well done me!” and giving yourself a literal pat on the back. Recognizing success along the way encourages us to keep going.
Call to action
Ask yourself and answer these questions:
What is a habit change I’d like to make?
What is the first, small step towards making that change?
When will I begin taking that small step?
Share the small step that you will begin taking in the comments below. Or share a habit you have now that you developed by making small changes. (You can also jump over to my Facebook group, KAS Coaching Corner to share.)
Come back next week when we’ll talk about willpower and overcoming temptation to return to old habits.
Would you like 1:1 help with identifying small steps to make a habit change? Schedule your 20-minute Complimentary Consultation and we can discuss how I may be able to help.