Six Steps to Goal Setting for Sustainable Health
By Stacie Rose (As seen in the winter 22' Health, Beauty & Fitness issue of BC The Mag).
As we approach the promise of a new year, let us first give thanks for blessings large and small. We have all been through a lot these past couple of years. It sounds strange speaking in years, but time has forced many of us into unforeseeable situations.
Some have taken up walking for the sake of both physical and mental health. Others turned to mediation, yoga and mindfulness. Pandemic puppies have forced many of us outside to soak in some sunshine and fresh air. Some dusted off their bikes while the weather was cooperative or even scored a Peloton to take into the cooler months. There are many, though, who have let their health slide in a big way. Maybe you fall somewhere between your dreams of good health and self-loathing over your lack of dedication to your wellbeing.
It’s hard to keep all the balls in the air. Between work-life balance, family life balance, nutrition, fitness, maintaining relationships, home projects, healthy meals, and creating any balance at all. It’s hard to create a plan and stay the course. It takes a lot. Many of us are short on bandwidth these days and have fallen off the wellness wagon altogether.
Step 1. Consider sustainability. Many of the goals we set for ourselves, although well-meaning, are simply not sustainable. We are fiercely individual beings. What works for your neighbor, sister, co-worker, or partner is not necessarily what will work for you. Take your individuality into account. What are your strengths? What are your limitations? There are many things to think about, such as genetics, personal ideologies, inspiration and aspirations. The goals you set must be goals you feel you can work towards without getting too easily discouraged. We can all create amazingly empowering lives for ourselves. Yet, it's essential to be clear about specific goals and how we intend to achieve them. Be realistic. Be brave. And above all be gentle, and honest with yourself. You know yourself better than anyone. What choices can you make that will be follow-through-able?
Step 2. Realize that you are unique. Start recognizing yourself as an individual. When you stop comparing yourself to others, you can start to step into your power and better align yourself with your purpose. You can begin to notice how you feel in your body. What’s out of whack? What feels good? How would you like to be? If there are things that need to be addressed you will most likely feel it in your gut. Just because a style of eating or exercising served you in the past does not necessarily mean it will work for you today. Aside honoring your bio-individuality you might try to tap into your feelings of wellness or lack there of at this particular moment in time.
Step 3. Put one foot in front of the other. Ask yourself what steps you can begin to take in the direction of your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day or a month, or a year. Be reasonable. Positive change, personal transformation, and even minor adjustments take time, perseverance and patience. If you focus solely on the outcome, you miss opportunities to listen to your body and heart throughout the process. When we listen to our bodies, we can make good choices.
Step 4. Be your own advocate. You know best. You know what needs to happen each day or each week when it comes to staying on track. You will likely need to carve out time to move toward your goals. You might need to let others know what you’re up to so they can support you. You may need to say no to things that don’t help you meet your goals or adjust your schedule, lifestyle or shopping list. There are many creative ways to stay focused, like writing your goals in a journal, jotting down notes to yourself daily, or practicing positive affirmations. If you need accountability, you can look for a buddy. You might need to create a plan or set boundaries. But at the end of the day, you'll need to look out for your health goals and treat them as if they are sacred because they most certainly are.
Step 5. Flow like water. Resolutions and goal setting can feel very cold and finite. But if we think about fluidity over rigidity, we are coming at our goals from a more human angle. We are ever-changing, free-flowing beings. We’re not robots to be programmed. If we listen to our hearts and gather the information our bodies give us, we can remain open-minded and tweak our goals as we go. It’s perfectly okay to set goals and make necessary changes along the way. Sometimes you don’t know what a destination looks like until you arrive. If it’s not what you were going for, keep moving. Don’t get discouraged. You will know you're on the right track when you feel as though you are living your best life in an authentic way that’s true to you!
Step 6. Trust your vision. You are a visionary. Visualize the life you want and the way you feel living this life. Are you smiling? Are you light on your feet? Keep this vision with you always as you set out on your goal setting journey toward wellness. It’s hard to achieve something you cannot visualize. Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy, fit, and well. You are a precious, intuitive being and gift to the world. You have so much to experience in this lifetime. Good health is not a given. It's more often something that needs to be envisioned, cultivated and cherished. It takes energy, time and dedication.
As you start to work on goal setting, remember to think about it in terms of sustainability. Take note that sustainability doesn’t have to mean doing the same thing at the same time every day. It can be a couple of twenty-minute yoga sessions a week or taking time each month to support your mental health. It could be reading, writing, juicing, stretching, getting in nature, cooking, or staying connected to loved ones. There are many aspects of health and wellness. It’s essential to make your journey a positive one. We tend to stick with things that feel good. You are in charge and the author of your own story. As you write this story, remember to be good to yourself in every way possible.