What were your wellness goals back at the beginning of the year? Eat healthier? Take up running? Complete your first triathlon? Lose weight? Look better? Do Yoga? Those are worthy aspirations, but – tell me this – how are you going to know when you’ve achieved your goal? One of the biggest reasons we fail when it comes to wellness is that we set vague goals. “Start running” is a lot less motivating than, “be good enough at running not to make a total fool of myself at my first 5k running race on May 25th, that I‘ve already registered and paid for along with three other friends and I can‘t turn back on now!”
Often times, unless we’re working towards a very well-defined goal, it’s really hard to keep ourselves honest. Without a clear commitment on the horizon it’s awfully easy for “You know, I should really start in on that whole ’eating better thing’ tomorrow,” to become, “but… it’s waited this long; I promise I’ll make a real go of it after St. Patrick‘s Day festivities.”
Or, how about this one? “I really should start getting out there for my morning walk, but… it’s so cold out this time of year; and when I get up early it’s still dark out!” Guess what? Enough delay. We’re already three months into the year now. Did you fail at your New Year’s Resolutions? Don’t worry about it; no one gets it right the first time. Vince Lombardi said it best, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
So get back up. No more excuses. It’s going to start getting warm out again in the near future. We’ll be changing our clocks ahead soon and it will be light out when you get up early. Time to dust off those failed New Year’s resolutions and breathe new life into them. Ready? Here are three quick tips to help you get back on track:
START SMALL: Our New Year’s resolutions lists are well intentioned. And often unrealistically long. Exercise. Eat better. Be more self-confident. Go after that job promotion… If you’re as busy as I am with a family and a job, you simply don’t have the mental and emotional energy to tackle everything on your list all at once. So start small, and think of it this way: which resolution, if accomplished, will create the biggest snowball effect towards your other goals? Pick that one and focus on it relentlessly. If, for example, you’ve made a commitment to run for 20 minutes each day, and stick with it for 2 weeks, you’ll feel better about yourself. And if you feel better about yourself, you’ll be more careful about what you eat because you’ll value how hard you‘ve been working at exercising. And if you care more, your self-confidence will grow. And if your self-confidence grows you’ll go after that job promotion you’ve been too afraid to chase after before. Sound like a fairy tale? It’s not. Never underestimate the powerful impact of small, consistent successes compounded over time.
MAKE IT MEASUREABLE: Back to your wellness commitment. Find a way to measure it. Likely, if physical activity is involved, it’s going to be an event of some sort. So go online, search a bit, and pick something. Maybe it’s a running race? Find one and sign up. Maybe it’s volunteering to lead a community hike that you’ll know you’ll have to get in shape in order to do? Make that call and get signed up. Or maybe you want to eat healthier, but aren’t sure where to start? Sign up for a cooking class locally. Whatever the specifics of your goal, the point is to pick something tangible with a date attached and work towards it.
GET ACCOUNTABLE: Who is encouraging you towards your goal? A spouse or your kids? A close friend or co-worker? Your social media friends? Whoever the positive influence is in your life (and if you don‘t have one, get one at all costs), share your goal with them and ask them to check-in with you on it every so often. Goals are much more likely to be achieved when we’ve committed to them publicly.
This is the latest installment (for the week of 3/3/2013) of my weekly syndicated column “THE PARENT ATHLETE” – a Health & Wellness Column for Busy Parents. You can read it in print and online in various locations. If you are interested in carrying my column in your own paper or website, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image by Nima Badiey, Flickr. Used by Permission Under Creative Commons License.