If you want to set yourself up for success, 3 mindset qualities are essential as you embark on the journey of improving your diet.
I’ve worked with many clients over the years to help them achieve a healthy diet. And I noticed something important: the people who are most successful in their efforts to improve their diet possess these 3 qualities from the outset: commitment, determination and openness to change. In this series, I’ll explore each of these in-depth individually. Let’s start with commitment.
Commitment: There is no way to achieve a goal, no matter how small or how big, without first committing yourself fully to it. Commitment is the first step. It is deciding that you will do it. Period. At the beginning, you might not have a clue how you’re going to go about it, what you’re going to need to change and what that’s all going to look like, but all of that doesn’t matter yet. All that matters at the beginning is that you commit to doing it. The rest will fall into place. The details will start to unfold once you’ve made that first step of commitment.
When it comes to improving your diet, you can start by articulating what you’re committing to by establishing an overarching long-term goal. Think about what you want to improve about the way you eat. Also be honest with yourself about what’s reasonable and doable at this point in your life. It’s possible that this is not the right time to make a big change, so really check in with yourself and be honest and realistic about what you’re ready and able to take on right now. Take a bit of time with this and really think it through. Better to put it off until you’re ready than to jump in carelessly, fail and feel defeated.
The sweet spot is to choose a goal that is doable but also a little challenging. You don’t want it to be too difficult, but you also don’t want it to be so easy that it’s a no-brainer. If it’s too easy, you’ll get bored and you won’t be making any real progress. Find that sweet spot, find that balance. That way you’ll feel excited about getting started and working on the goal without feeling overwhelmed.
OK, now that you’re in the right headspace, what change do you want to make and what change are you ready to commit to at this time? For example, do you want to rework your overall diet to make it more healthy and balanced? Or is there a particular part of your diet that you’re ready to change? Do you want to make healthier choices when you eat out? Do you want to get less sodium in your diet to improve your blood pressure? Do you want to eat more servings of vegetables each day? The better you can articulate what you want to achieve, the more likely you will be to succeed. Words are powerful – by articulating clearly what you want to do, you’ve set a definite intention. You’ve clarified what it is that you want to improve. You’re off to a great start!
Then, once you’ve articulated your overall long-term goal, thoughtfully consider how long it will reasonably take for you to achieve this goal or make it a habit. Will it take 3 months or will it take a full year? Write it down. Again, carefully consider what you’re willing and able to do within this timeframe. Setting a timeframe for a goal is critical because it creates that initial spark that lights a fire within you to take action.
Finally, the last step in the commitment process is to break down your larger, long-term goal into smaller, actionable steps. This is the fun part! I call this creating an action plan. Even a big goal can be brought down to manageable size by breaking it down into smaller chunks. To get started, do some brainstorming and think about:
- What aspect of the larger goal am I excited or driven to jump into right away?
- And, in that vein, what are 1 or 2 logical first steps that I can commit to doing on a regular basis over the first month.
- Then, plan out your action steps in detail. Decide how often each day or each week you will commit to do them. Add them to your calendar – think about your schedule and, knowing yourself, consider what would be the optimal time to do these action steps during your day. How often each week would it be realistic to concentrate and work on these goals? The more you can think this through, plan it out and add these action steps to your schedule, the better.
Again, don’t make these smaller goals too difficult or too easy. Find the sweet spot – where you feel comfortable, confident…but also energized by a bit of a challenge!
To walk you through an example of breaking a long-term goal down into smaller, actionable goals, let’s pretend that I have a larger goal of getting more vegetables into my diet. I’m excited about the beets growing in my garden and would really love to learn how to cook and prepare beets in different ways so I can eat and enjoy them on a regular basis at home. I don’t have time to cook every night, but I do have time on Wednesday nights and on weekend mornings. I like to tend to my garden on Saturday mornings (a great time to harvest beets!) So, I decide to cook a new beet recipe that appeals to me each week on Sunday mornings from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. as this is a time when it’s quiet in the house and I have time to myself. I commit to doing this for 4 weeks straight. By the end of the 4 weeks, I’ll have made 4 different beet recipes and I’ll have added beets to my diet for each of those weeks. And, it’ll be time for a heart beet party with my friends! 🙂
After the 4 weeks, I might not love all of the recipes I’ve made, but I’ll have given them a try. I’ll have increased my knowledge and abilities with cooking beets, I’ll have integrated beets into my diet and I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because I met my goal. This will give me confidence in myself and inspire me to keep going and create a new goal regarding eating more vegetables for the next month.
By being steadfast in achieving that first goal during that first month, I’ve already started tapping into the 2nd essential for success: determination. I’ll talk about determination and how you can tap into it fully in part 2 of this series which I will publish on this website in the next 2 weeks. See you right back here at that time. In the meantime, stay strong and committed – you’ve got this!