As I said in a previous blog, if we want to change a habit it is important to formulate a plan to manage the change. This blog will set out how to plan for change.

Obviously the first step in change is the realisation that change is necessary and that we want to change. Before this happens many of us may think that our habit is not a problem or that we can see no reason why we should change. Only after the realisation of the gravity of our habits, the long-term consequences and how it is affecting those around us, do we think about change.

As we begin to consider changing a habit we may be faced with the feeling that it is almost impossible to change. This is often true when we have tried before and failed. We may need to talk to someone about our feelings of hopelessness, despondency and depression.

Having reached the point where we know we want to change, we need to decided what we are going to do. This may be joining a gym, an exercise group, attending therapy sessions, eating differently etc. What we are going to do needs to be practical. It should be within our physical and mental capability. It is not beneficial to choose an activity that we are physically incapable of doing or have an unrealistic expectation that will leave us despondent. If we are going to diet, do we have the knowledge to develop a healthy diet plan or the skills to cook fat-free meals?  It will also be important to seek professional help and opinion especially if the habit has an addictive aspect.

The next step is to look at the resources we have.

  1. The most important resource is our support group. The support group will be there to encourage us when we become disheartened. The professional consultants are also part of the support group.
  2. Time is another important resource and will need to be managed to allow for exercise, therapy or time to prepare different meals (depending on the habit we wish to change).
  3. There may be a financial implication. This may impact our lifestyle in that we can no longer afford to do some of the things we enjoy.

There are a number of other considerations before we start. How will it affect those around me? Are they happy to change their lifestyle to accommodate me? As example, if we want to eat fat-free meals but we are not the person that usually prepares the meals, we will first need to talk about it with them.  Do we have the space or place – especially if we are starting an exercise regime? Are there transport implications – getting to the gym or therapy sessions?

Having planned the above, we now have to set a start date. It would be ineffective to start a diet when we are going on a luxury holiday, or sign up for an exercise class when we are going to be away on business. It is recommended that we plan ahead for at least 3 months. What we are trying to achieve is a new habit to replace the old. It is considered that to establish a habit or have a long-term memory regarding something, it requires repeating it daily for 3 months.

Now we are at the stage to get up and do it. Next week we will talk about maintaining the plan of change.