It happens every year. You decide that you’ve had it. This is it. This time, it’s going to be different. You really are going to lose those 20 extra pounds that snuck up on you over the last few years, or cut out the fast food, or start going to gym. You’re pumped up and ready to go.But something happens. After a couple of weeks, maybe a little more, you’re back at your favorite fast food joint, eating that 1000 calorie burger and fries for lunch, or are down to only one time a week at the gym, soon to be none. The old habits prevailed. Same old, same old. Sigh.These scenarios are played out thousands of times a day. You know you want to make changes to your health or fitness, and are pretty motivated. But for some reason, the results are always the same. You start your ‘diet’ again every Monday.As a former personal trainer at a national health club chain, I was amazed at how many people signed up in droves in September and January. They were all very committed. You could see it. They were pumped up and ready to go.But within a month, it was down to a trickle.So what happens? What stops us from finally making the changes we really want?It actually has its roots in how our minds perceive the whole process of change. While we have this incredible brain that can do about 100 trillion calculations per second, its underlying focus is on our survival 100% of the time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, for it has allowed us to survive since the beginning of mankind. While we aren’t consciously thinking about survival, you can bet that primitive part of our brain is standing guard, looking out for us. It’s got our back. But if you don’t know what’s going on, it can keep you from achieving what you want.Change, whether it is a big change, like developing an exercise habit for instance, or even a little change like deciding to make your bed everyday, is perceived by our survival mind as a threat. I know it might sound crazy. But put it to the test in your own life. I’m pretty sure when you take a look, you will find some really good examples. The one thing we seem to like more than anything else is non-change. Put another way, we like comfort. Comfort just makes us feel good.Anytime we put ourselves into a situation where we are not so comfortable, such as the aforementioned health changes, we put our survival mind on alert. Change is the unknown to this part of our mind, a state of being it goes to great lengths to avoid. The whole fear of the unknown thing and the love of sameness. Discomfort is its calling card.So how do we circumvent this state of mind? First, just understanding what is going on gives you a tremendous advantage, for as they say, knowledge is power. But just having the knowledge isn’t going to drag your butt out of bed to go to the gym. Now that’s uncomfortable.Here’s a few things that will help making anything a habit:1. Get educated. This has to be the first step. After all, how are you going to get from here to there if you don’t know how to drive? You can use books, a personal coach or consultant, seminars etc. It doesn’t matter so much how you do as long as you do. Apart from his obvious talent, do you think Tiger Woods learned that swing on his own? Of course not.2. Start small. Making big changes too fast too soon for most of us sets us up to fail. The vast majority of us must take small steps to succeed. So just building the habit becomes important. If exercise is what you want to do, start with perhaps just a 15 minute walk every other day for a month. Sounds easy. However, the point is not how fast you reach your goals, but developing the habit. Unless you are in a health crisis, you want it easy right now. If it’s cutting the calories, go from full-fat dressings to light dressings, or substitute an apple for that dessert. Just do that one thing for a while. When you add up all the small things it can amount to a lot over time. The main thing is to make really doable changes so you don’t activate that survival mind. You do not want to wake it up.3. Set goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re still going to get somewhere. It just may not be where you want. As mentioned above, make sure your goals are very doable. Every morning, review them, and every night evaluate how you did. If you reached your goal for that day, great. If not, why not. Success at anything is setting a target, applying a method, and then analyzing how you did. If you succeeded that day, or week, congratulations. If not, it’s time for a course correction. Analyze what happened and correct.4. List the benefits. Why you are doing what you are doing? Read it daily along with your goals. It will help to keep you motivated.5. Don’t give up! Decide on what you want and don’t quit. Ask yourself how much do you want what you want. I have a saying posted above my desk that says: “Commitment Guarantees You Will Succeed.” So, how much do you want what you want?6. Keep repeating the action until it becomes a habit, your new status quo, your new comfort zone. We all have plenty of habits some good, some not so good. How did we develop those habits in the first place? We simply repeated an action – or inaction – over and over again until it became ‘a habit.’7. Visualize and affirm. Don’t underestimate the power of visualizations. Use your imagination to ‘image’ what you want your future body, lifestyle, eating habits, or whatever to look like. It really is mind over matter. By that I don’t mean only will power, although you will have to use some of that while you are in the process. It’s more a matter of seeing your future in your mind and demonstrating the new behavior at the same time. It can be a powerful tool. Feel the confidence.Remember, you get what you focus on. If you want to make a change to your health or fitness, you must make it a priority. Be determined that you will succeed. And you will.