Setting goals and working towards them is the most basic formula for behaviour change.
Think about a simple goal, say "take a walk, each day". In the way we have stated this goal, there is no rule for how long to walk for, when, where or with whom. It's simply, walk each day. Over time you will be able to judge if there's an improvement in your daily walking. You will not need to quantify it, or provide a percentage improvement, but you should have a clear sense of whether you've made a small, medium or large improvement in your walking since the last benchmark.
If you have a strong sense of walking better/more, that will likely be accompanied by some improvement in your overall self-rating of fitness, and other changes that you can notice.
Let's branch out a bit and think about a second goal, to "eat some veggies", each day. This is another seemingly simple task. Think about it some more however and you will realize how much room for improvement there is in your eating of veggies. This is not an endorsement of veganism, since eating veggies is important no matter what else is included or not included in the diet.
Again, think about a gradual improvement in your veggie eating, and how much better that would make you feel in general.
After focusing on these goals for a while, you might add other simple goals, such as "do something to relax". Or add other eating and physical activity goals. Gradually you will gain a new set of healthy habits.
All of that probably adds up to some big changes in your health and wellness, especially over longer periods of time.
Think small, and remember that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. That is a cliché, but it is undoubtedly true!
Stephen Stotland, Ph.D.
This blog presents some of our ideas about the key issues involved in achieving successful long-term weight control.