Want to change your life? It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and take action!

1. Give yourself an incentive

Rather than punish yourself by denying yourself every element that makes up your comfort zone (say a Mars bar while you wait for the kids to finish footy training), choose a healthier substitute and view it as a reward.

Be curious about what it can add to your life rather than focusing on what you’re losing. Research shows that losing something makes us twice as miserable as gaining something. 

2. Map out your options

Help yourself by mapping out your options. Create a list of options from which you can make a choice. It’s hard to choose something that’s part of a nebulous cluster in your head. And if it’s hard you’re more likely to stick with what you know. 

3. Make it easy

Make the new normal as easy to execute as the old one (unless you want to make your life harder). If the path of least resistance is also the healthier option, you’ll inadvertently improve your diet. No white knuckles required. The sense of achievement will inspire you to do it again and soon the new behaviour will be your auto go-to. 

4. Give feedback

Let yourself know when you are doing well or how you might do better. Remember to base feedback on rewards and praise, not punishment. 

5. Expect error

Prepare to slip into old, unhealthy ways. By accepting that you are human and that all humans make mistakes – especially when they’re learning a new skill or way of being – you can minimise the fallout from trip-ups. The more forgiving you are, the more likely you are to move on without beating yourself up or engaging in counterproductive punitive actions (say, a ‘take that’ Mars Bar session). 

6. Structure complex choices

Weigh up the pros and cons of different choices. Choosing to do something different may seem overwhelming at first, and this makes it easy to cling to what you know. This is where motivation comes in – if you’re invested n the potential benefits of the new behaviour, you’re more likely to push through the pain barrier and do it.