The American Psychological Association recommends that men and women interested in making lifestyle changes begin by making realistic short- and long-term goals and then starting small.
Unrealistic short-term goals can compromise people’s efforts at making positive changes, ultimately derailing their efforts. But realistic short-term goals can pave the way to realizing the loftier long-term goals.
For example, the APA recommends that people who set a long-term weight loss goal of 20 pounds begin by aiming to lose one pound a week. Accomplishing that short-term goal can give people the confidence and satisfaction they need to propel them toward achieving their long-term goal.
The APA also advises that men and women who want to change unhealthy behaviors do so one unhealthy behavior at a time, unless several unhealthy behaviors are putting their overall health in imminent danger. Quitting smoking and eating healthy requires considerable effort and dedication, and individuals may encounter problems when they try to do too much at one time.
As a result, the APA recommends waiting until one new healthy behavior has become routine before attempting to change another unhealthy behavior.