If you set goals for the year, how are you doing? If you’re well on your way, that’s great. Keep it up. If not, no worries. Join the crowd. Just a few tweaks can get you back on track and well on your way too.
Here are some questions to think about as you regroup. You may want to write down your responses so you can reflect on them. They may especially come in handy when you lapse:
What goals resonate with you? Often, we set out to do what we think we should do instead of owning our priorities, which we are more likely to accomplish. Maybe for example, you resolved to move your body 45 minutes a day four days a week because everyone knows exercise is a good thing. And you started off the year pretty good. But by mid-February, you are not so enthusiastic, and well, every so often you think about exercising. Or, you regularly beat yourself up because you don’t. It may be one of many other goals. What goal(s) do you most wish to achieve? What change(s) do you think would make the biggest difference in your life? Which goals involve activities for which you have a natural affinity? For what goal(s) do you feel the greatest sense of urgency or enthusiasm?
What are your top priorities? We usually have a running list of changes we want to make in our life. You may want to increase movement in your week, stop eating after 7 pm, resume your creative projects, and start a regular meditation practice. Trying to incorporate too many things into your life at one time though decreases your chances of meeting your goals. Lasting change requires focus and persistence. And success breeds success. Start small with what you want to work on changing and build from there. Gain traction on one of your most important goals, for example, and then build in the next one and so on. Be patient with the process and see the results build up over time.
Why are they your priorities? For those times when all you want to do is veg out on the couch whenever you have spare time or eat the whole bag of chips, it is always helpful to know why you’ve made your goal a priority. Perhaps after thinking about it you decided that movement was your priority because it helps you reach other benefits at the same time such as preventing further weight gain, blowing off steam and calming your nerves, connecting with nature, and interacting with others. Or maybe resuming your creative projects was most important because what was really missing in your life was that thing that feeds your soul and when you do it, you have no need for the whole bag of chips. What is it that makes your goal so important? How does it contribute to your health or well-being?
What is the one small step you can take towards achieving that priority? Being realistic about how we reach our goals can make a big difference in our success and help build a firm foundation for reaching our other goals. Did you expect to go from 0 to 100 in one fell swoop? What if you built movement into your week gradually, say, starting with 20 minutes twice a week and then adding in an additional day in week 3 and week 6, and then increasing the length? This is just an example; always proceed with your goals as appropriate for your health status. You may find that 45 minutes comes naturally. We are more likely to accomplish our goals if we break them up into smaller chunks and take them one step at a time.
What’s your plan? Now that you know the what and the why, get really specific about the when, how, and where. What day? What time? And, sticking with the movement example, what kind of movement? Brisk walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing … a mixture? Will it be through classes or on your own? Whatever you decide, build it into your day. Put it in your calendar. Keep track of your progress. And forgive yourself when you lapse. That’s perfectly natural; life is like that. Just get back to working your plan.
What’s in the way? Maybe you need to move something out of the way before you can really get into the flow on this goal.
- It could be a reluctance to create the dedicated space on your calendar, say no to requests for your time before you can make time for your own health & wellness goals, or ask for support from your spouse or another loved one to watch the kids while you go to the gym.
- It could be that your proclivity for overachievement makes it difficult to put off a work task that you would usually stay later at the office to do though, when you really think about it, it could just as well be done in the morning.
- Perhaps there is some fear of how your life might change if you succeed, or as we’ve talked about in previous articles, a sense of guilt about thinking about your own well-being and taking time to care for yourself, or a belief that everything else is more important than the health and well-being of your own mind, body, or spirit.
Identify through self-reflection, or consultation with a loved one, coach, or therapist, as the case may be, what barriers need to be dissolved before your efforts can truly take root.
The most important thing to remember though is that this, like much of everything else, is a persistence game. Don’t give up.