3 steps to successful habit change

Changing old habits can be tough. Words make it a little too easy to say that we want to lose body fat, eat more vegetables, and spend more time in the gym. Unfortunately, when reality comes around, those simple tasks suddenly make a dramatic turn into difficulty. As someone who specializes in helping others make lifestyle adjustments in fitness and nutrition, these are some of my key focuses that I implement with my clients to drive successful habit change.

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Know the direction of your habit change

To make habit change successful, you must know exactly where you currently stand and where you expect yourself to be. These two reference points help you set up the direction of your journey. This is something that has helped me immensely in my own experience. Whether it is in my personal health and fitness, relationships, or business goals, this is usually the first thing that I make sure to define before I step out.

Finding your desired end point also allows you a little perspective into the cost and effect you’ll experience as you achieve that goal. It’s definitely attractive to see the bodies of swimsuit models and want that for myself, but I’ve got to decide whether that body will be worth the regular hours training in the gym and watching my nutrition choices. On the flip side, I also know that by taking the steps to achieve this physical result also comes with abundant energy, increased confidence, and the ability to fly over walls – ask my Spartan Race team.

Working out at Foothill Physique Studio – Photo by Yajen Tan

Focus on small, impactful adjustments

We can only make so much habit change at once. With all the craziness going on in our lives – work, relationships, financials, kids, the President, the Kardashians – we can’t expect to just step out and decide to fix it all. This is where decision making comes into play.

Many people jump into their New Year’s resolutions by paying for a brand new gym membership, expecting that they’re going to knock out their goals in the momentum of the new year. If you take a step back from the new year nonsense, you can see that all that’s happening is a credit card transaction and a few signatures exchanged.

A much more effective approach might be to start going to bed an hour earlier every night, so that when you wake up in the morning, you’ll have enough time to squeeze in a 20 minute workout that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to manage on your busy schedule. The best part about this approach is that even if you miss your workout, you at least get the benefit of some extra sleep, which I think all of us can appreciate.

To improve your quality of sleep, check out my 5 tricks to improve sleep and productivity.

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Reflect regularly on your progress

Self-reflection is something that I’ve actually just taken up quite recently in the past couple months. The two primary benefits that I’ve been seeing from it are the ability to adjust performance and the chance to celebrate how far you’ve come. The tough reality is that results take time, we won’t be able to see the fruits of our labor until weeks, months, sometimes years after we started. Within that time, perspectives change, and so do conditions. We have to be able to make adjustments to our plans to continuously progress in the direction that we feel is right.

Personally, I’m the person that is able to remember all sorts of mistakes and failures that I’ve made, but very few of the successes. That can create a lot of negativity that I don’t want to put up with on a day-to-day basis. My time for self-reflection not only gives me the opportunity to figure out how I can fix these previous failures, but also allows me the chance to appreciate how far I’ve made it so far.


My biggest takeaway for anyone who is trying to make a significant behavioral change in their life would be to take the time to truly understand who you are and what you really want. Once you can become aligned on your true desires, following up just becomes a matter of time and experience. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article, if you found it useful, please share it with someone who you think would find it useful!

Yajen Tan is the founder of local fitness and nutrition brand Gimme Fit, which focuses on helping men and women jump start their way into healthy, sustainable lifestyles. To keep up with the latest updates in the health and fitness world, check out our blog.


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