To beat the odds and achieve success with your healthy intentions:
- Start with easily achievable goals
- Practice with purpose
- Adjust goals and intentions when necessary
Start with achievable goals.
I mean really achievable! Just 1% better than yesterday will change your life.
Author James Clear, has a great take on this approach: “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.”
When we try to stretch our goals and hope for huge results we are likely to get bogged down and discouraged. This is because change and skill development take time. Not just to learn and then master but also to integrate it into your mind and daily routine.
So, a useful exercise can be to write down what you might be able to do to get 1% better in your quest for improved physical well-being. These 1%’ers should be in alignment with your larger intentions.
Say, for example you want to lose some body fat. Because you are smart and have looked into the best ways to achieve this goal you have decided to lower your overall carbohydrate consumption and add brisk walking to your exercise program.
So what does 1% better look like? Maybe by cutting your carbs by 3 grams and walking for 1 minute. Yes, 3 grams and 1 minute of walking, that’s it! Or maybe some other super small incremental improvement is right for you. Experiment and find out what suites you best. But make it so small that it seems that you would never get anywhere. In fact, make it so small that you will not see, feel or notice any change at all when you are done. That way you will sustain and grow your practice but still be making progress.
Practice with purpose:
This is especially true of any behavior that is not consistently getting done already. The things that are new to you (New Years Resolutions?) will require more practice because behavior change is hard and takes time (i.e. practice).
To make progress, however, your practicing has to be deliberate. What does that mean? Again, the Author James Clear (https://jamesclear.com/deliberate-practice-theory) has a great answer:
“Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.”
Deliberate practice feels different. You know you are making progress if your practice is hard and you get tired doing it. You are using a new set of “muscles”. These are the muscles of behavior change. And like the muscles in your body they get fatigued. That is how you improve. The success is in the struggle.
Adjust goals and intentions when necessary
Life can get complicated (especially recently). Things change. Because of this, it’s important to be flexible and change your approach when your situation or circumstances change.
There’s a fine line between quitting and course correcting. It is important to recognize when something is not working for you because you don’t want to waste time going too far down the wrong road. But conversely, because change is hard, you will have to fight you inner resistance to not quite prematurely.
A useful technique to continually monitor your intentions, goals and progress is to journal. Your journal can look like whatever you want it to.
Maybe a bullet style (quick and easy), maybe a long form, hand written style (in depth and reflective) . Maybe dictating into your notes app or other automated style (fun and flexible).
What matters is that your journal becomes a tool for helping to make sure that you are on the right track.
You will notice what is working and what needs to go. Identifying opportunities to get more out of your wellness practice is a necessary step in the process. What worked for you last month might need to be adjusted this month. Your journal is one way to identify what direction to go in.
So start small, practice deliberately and course correct when necessary.
Good luck & have fun!