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Learning From Previous Success

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

One of the main things I focus on and facilitate as a certified health coach is behaviour change, often adopting motivational interviewing (M.I.) principles in order to aid a client to harness their own motivation and progress through the various stages of change.

When you are embarking on a new behaviour change but you feel like the challenge may be too big or unachievable, it can help to take some time to reflect upon your previous successes. This is just one of the many ways in which you can start to build up your motivation and help you feel more confident about the change you are trying to make.

Before you spend your time thinking about previous successes, it is worth writing down how confident you feel about making this change on a scale of one to ten, one being not at all confident and ten being extremely confident.

Why have you given yourself this score? Why wasn't it lower? Think about that for a minute. 

Next, start to think about times where you have made successful changes or achieved a goal you have set for yourself. Write these achievements down. It doesn't matter if it was something small or something much bigger, it all counts. What has worked for you in the past and what help did you require? What did you have to do in preparation for achieving your goal and what barriers did you have to overcome?


If your previous achievement was losing weight, how much weight did you manage to lose and how did you achieve this? Did you change your diet or start a new exercise? Did you do it with a friend or attend a weight loss group? What was difficult about losing the weight and what challenges did you face e.g. family love unhealthy snacks, your love of cake etc? It doesn't matter if you subsequently put the weight back on, focus on the achievement you made in the first instance. It's still a huge achievement where you showed determination and dedication.

Later you can have a think about why the weight went back on and how this may have been prevented or what sort of help could have been put in place in order to maintain your weight loss. These are things you may be able to organise this time around if the example achievement, or something similar, is what you would like to work towards again.

After you have written down and focused on a few examples, read through them. Think about how you felt when you accomplished these things. Now, write down again how confident you feel about making a new behaviour change on a scale of one to ten. Has the score changed?

Every now and again, revisit this list of achievements. No behaviour change goes perfectly, nothing comes without bumps in the road, however having positive experiences to reflect on when things get tough can be helpful.

You can also keep an eye out in the Health Hub for other useful articles about behaviour change and little things you can do to help yourself. Good luck.

You can also contact me at

Please note: This article is intended to be for educational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or replace professional assessment or personalised advice.

I do not hold responsibility for the information on any links to external websites within this article and information within these links/websites may change at any time or no longer be accessible. Any website pages/links added are also for education purposes only.

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