Think about a simple goal, say "take a walk, each day". In the way we have stated the goal, there is no anchor for how long to walk for, when, where or with whom to walk. It's simply, walk or don't walk, each day. Over time you will be able to judge if there is an improvement in your daily walking. You will not need to quantify it, or provide a percentage improvement, but you will have a clear sense of whether you've made a small, medium or large improvement since the last benchmark.
If you have a strong sense of walking better/more, it will likely be accompanied by some improvement in your overall self-rating of fitness, and other changes that you notice.
Now, imagine there is a progression over time. Picture yourself walking more and more (or better and better), and how much fitter you feel in general.
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 the 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.
Think about a gradual improvement in your veggie eating, and how much better that makes you feel in general.
After focusing on these simple 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.
Stephen Stotland, Ph.D.
This blog presents some of our ideas about the key issues involved in achieving successful long-term weight control.