"Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times" (Aeschylus).

How can we stick with a preferred outcome the first day, week, month, and on into a year and beyond? While making a change can feel daunting, change can be approached simply. My personal & professional observation about successfully maintaining healthier choices and/or successful outcomes is this. Doing so means comprehending, learning, experiencing, and adapting to a preferred outcome or change before launching into will power.

Sincerely, skipping over those challenging bits is something that I tried many times personally. Why is this? Well, I have my theories. I won't start that magnum opus here except to say this. It's not how the human brain is wired. Our neuro-transmitters send and receive information. Just like electrical circuitry, if there is no outlet, we'll have a hard time getting power. So, the work of sustaining confidence, motivation, performance, healthier choices, and preferred outcomes is wiring and framing a new source to power our behavior. Sure, we can run an extension cord and hobble together a solution on the fly. We all do it at one time or another. Yet, I strongly suspect from personal and professional experience that a organizing and testing your results creates a more sustainable outcome. Many a yoyo dieter, smoker, dipper, etc. know exactly of what I speak.

Here's an outline to help you prepare for transitioning to a new behavior.

2-9 months before your success date,

Begin listing what you like to do & how you can reward yourself for progress.
Try physical activities & hobbies that you enjoy and select 1-2 that you will do 2-3 times per week for success moments.
Begin to comprehend your target behaviors.
Transition unhelpful behaviors to healthier choices.
Practice understanding your responses: emotions, physical, and mental.
Drink more water.
Slow eating and practice doing enjoyable activities as a celebration.
Review how you measure your progress and preferred outcomes. Find ways to positively reinforce your efforts rather than sabotaging them.
Tell a few of your friends & family members that you intend to transition.
Research, join, and actively participate in relevant support networks.
Develop a vision board, journal, etc., that can help you visualize, express gratitude for, articulate, etc., your preferred lifestyle and behaviors.
2 weeks-2months before your date,

Tell more people about your success date & actively participate in a support network giving and receiving support.
Do something that you enjoy every day.
Change your normal routine (eat breakfast, get up earlier, etc.).
Do at least 10 success moments each day.
Journal all related behavior: input and energy output, etc.
Sort your clothing: remove unused items and upgrade your options as rewards.
Actively plan your schedule at least one month in advance.
1 week before your date,

Scan home and remove or replace items that discourage you.
Plan your activities for the next week and purchase all items needed.
The night before,

Be sure that your environment is prepared to support your success.
Let your support network know what you need and be honest with them.
The day of and beyond,

Adjust your plan for the first day.
Throughout the day, reflect on what you learned thus far about what works.Make adjustments as needed.
Be prepared and be honest with yourself.
Time might drag from moment to moment, so be prepared with activities and distractions.
Review & add to your what's-in-it-for-you list throughout the day.
Don't be shy about asking for help as needed.If you need to be left alone, tell people what you need!
Remember that it gets better.
Reward yourself by no later than one hour before you go to bed!This may seem silly, but it is very helpful retraining the pleasure centers of the brain (new clothing, lunch out, hot bath, special treat, etc.)
Review your vision board and add to it.
Don't test yourself by going into difficult situations.Again, why make it harder for yourself?
Reframe de-motivating situations immediately.
Adapting to and reinforcing preferred learning styles and outcome can be confusing and overwhelming at times, as well as rewarding. So, please be patient with yourself and use these outlines as a starting point to integrate what you comprehended, learned, and experienced thus far about your change. Add to and take away what does and does not adapt to your preferred outcome for each phase.

Author's Bio: 

Using a pragmatic approach to business and life, Deone Benninghoven, MSM is known as The Be-Clear Gal. She is a sought after coach, speaker, consultant, and author that facilitates the performance development of individuals, teams, and organizations using a strength-based and systemic approach. Her clients consistently indicate that Benninghoven's approach to change management is practical, useful, and sustainable. Individuals, and groups such as Microsoft, Accenture, Symbol Technologies, sovereign nations, local and regional municipalities, leave her Be-Clear keynotes with academically-sound and evidence-based information shared in a fun and easy-to-understand and apply format.

Benninghoven holds a BS and MSM from Antioch University Seattle in Organizational Design & Leadership Development and Management and lives in Seattle, WA. Believing that one step at a time the sculpture, dance, and song of life emerges, she is involved in multiple coaching and organizational-development associations, Toastmasters, the Seattle Writer's Guild, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, City of Seattle Youth Services, and sports, art, dance, and singing groups.

"Be clear on who you are and then be it" (Be True, Be Happy, Hanns-Oskar Porr).