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Change a Habit by Setting Goals

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

If you've decided to change a habit—whether it's quitting smoking, lowering your blood pressure, becoming more active, or doing something else to improve your health—congratulations! Making that decision is the first step toward making a change.

1. Have your own reason

Your reason for wanting to change a habit is really important. Maybe you want to quit smoking so that you can avoid future health problems. Or maybe you want to eat a healthier diet so you can lose weight. If you have high blood pressure, your reason may be clear: to lower your blood pressure.

You need to feel ready to make a change. If you don't feel ready now, that's okay. You can still be thinking and planning. When you truly want to make changes, you're ready for the next step.

It's not easy to change habits. But taking the time to really think about what will motivate or inspire you will help you reach your goals.

2. Set goals you can reach

When you are clear about your reasons for wanting to make a change, it's time to set your goals.

Try these tips for setting goals:

3. Prepare for slip-ups

It's perfectly normal to try to change a habit, go along fine for a while, and then have a setback. Lots of people try and try again before they reach their goals.

What are the things that might cause a setback for you? If you have tried to change a habit before, think about what helped you and what got in your way.

By thinking about these barriers now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.

There will be times when you slip up and don't make your goal for the week. When that happens, don't get mad at yourself. Learn from the experience. Ask yourself what got in the way of reaching your goal. Positive thinking goes a long way when you're making lifestyle changes.

4. Get support

The more support you have for making lifestyle changes, the easier it is to make those changes.

Try these tips for getting support:

For more help, see:


Credits for Change a Habit by Setting Goals

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health


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