This is part two in a four-part series called ‘Making changes – Setting yourself up for success.’ In this series I’m taking you through four questions that you should ask yourself to help you stick to whatever change you want to make. I really hope it helps you to get out of the cycle of good intentions going wrong. I recommend starting at Part 1 – Why? And then coming back to this blog.

Don’t be like most people

Most people will set a goal and be really enthusiastic about reaching it for a few days or weeks but then the motivation wears off. Do you identify with that? Even the best of intentions get side-tracked when the reality of everyday life kicks in, you’re tired and will power is low. Changes around midlife and menopause however really need to be long lasting to be beneficial. There’s no quick fix here. We need long term new habits and ways of life that are sustainable to shape our healthy future.

It’s all a question of how

Part one of this series was crucial and that was getting to the root of WHY you want to make a particular change. Going really deep to uncover your true drive and motivation. Now we turn to the question of HOW.

The only person who can answer that question is you. You are the one living your life and know what will work for you. You know when your energy levels are high, when you could spare half an hour and when you know the chances of that happening are close to zero. You are the expert of you so always make sure your changes suit you. It’s unlikely to be what worked for your friend down the road.

Here are some of the common mistakes people make:

  • Not setting the right end goal.

You need a defined target. It should be achievable but also enough of a challenge to make you realise you have to work towards it. A great question to ask yourself is, ‘How will I know when I’ve got there?” One of my coaching clients was saying she wanted to look and feel like she did ten years ago. The thing is, ten years ago she was also not happy with how she was and was working towards looking and feeling better. If she doesn’t set a clear goal then chances are, in another ten years she’ll still want to look and feel like she did ten years ago! It’s in our nature to not be happy where we are. We will always want more. How can you celebrate success when you don’t know if you’ve got there? For some goals like running a marathon it’s easy, you know you’ve done it when you cross the finish line. We need to create our own finish line for whatever change we want to make. It’s crucial to be really clear and specific about your end goal.

  • Being over ambitious in what you can do each day.

Remember, you want to set yourself up for success not failure. Your end goal is just that, your destination. That’s what you’re steering towards but there need to be other stops along the way. It’s going to take time and patience to get there. The way to build new habits that truly last is to take really tiny steps and do them over and over again until you rewire your brain. To learn more about neuroplasticity and the neuroscience behind making successful change, visit my friend Dr Alice Penn’s website and social media she explains it so well. For example, don’t try to revolutionise your whole diet in one go, start with breakfast or even smaller than that, start with a healthy breakfast on Mondays. Willpower is not infinite, it’s highest in the morning so use that opportunity to get new habits done early. A small achievable step will give you a positive spiral, you can add to it over time. Fail early and you’re are less likely to continue. Realistic is better than overambitious. Make it as easy for yourself as possible.

  • Not being clear on exactly what you have to do.

This might sound silly but you need to be really specific about what you expect of yourself. If your plan is vague, you’ll procrastinate and faff about and put it off until later. You need to know exactly what your daily actions are, in detail. ‘Eat a healthy breakfast’ isn’t going to cut it. What do you mean by healthy? What do you want to include and avoid? When are you going to buy the food? Do you need to look for recipe ideas? How will you manage this on a work day when you’re always in a rush? Get down to the nitty gritty to make it happen. Be prepared. Be clear. Know exactly what it takes. Write it down.

  • Not being persisitent.

Don’t rush your change. Start small, gradually build and you will get there. This is going to take time but you are heading in the right direction, Don’t get frustrated with yourself and expect big results too soon. Trust that your small daily actions and gradually adding to those will get you where you want to be. Celebrate small achievements as you go. Stuck to your change for a full week? Acknowledge this and give credit to yourself.  Change is not easy, you need to be persistent and determined. Revisit your why when you are struggling.

Let’s return to the woman last week who wanted to do regular strength work.

Q – What’s your end goal?

A – I want to feel strong and independent.

Q – How will you know when you’ve got there?

A – I don’t know!

Q – How much strength work do you think you will need to do each week to feel that way?

A – Maybe an hour three times a week.

An hour three times a week is a great end goal. No we know where we are aiming for.

Here’s an ideal plan that works for her:

  • Go online and buy some dumbbells
  • Find some online strength work outs
  • Put the dumbbells in the lounge
  • Pick up the dumbbells on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7am before getting ready for work
  • Start the online workout.
  • Workout for ten minutes.

The end goal is clear. The first step is clear. The plan is achievable. There is all the time in the world to build on this once this has become a habit.

I hope this helps with the question of how. It’s working everything backwards again and getting into the detail. It might sound silly but honestly, when it’s so clear it’s hard to wriggle out of it You know what you need to do so you do it.

Check back next week for part 3!

I’m now offering one to one menopause and midlife coaching. I can help you work through questions like this. Reflecting with others can make all the difference to your success. If you’d like to explore this possibility, then just send me an email at and I’ll get in touch with some more information.

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