It is not uncommon when I first begin working with someone that they have a long list of areas of their health that they want to address and work on. Eat healthier, exercise more, have better sleeping habits, drink less soda/coffee, manage stress better, etc. Those are all fantastic goals, but often people try to work on them all at the same time which can easily overload and cause them to not achieve their goals. Another issue is that someone I’m working with may want to lose weight but thinks they should lose 30 pounds or more in a month. It can sound like a good idea on the surface, but it is unrealistic through a healthy lifestyle change. Understanding what areas of health you want to improve is important, but it is necessary to approach your goals in a realistic and achievable manner.
- One At A Time
For most people, it is best to take on each goal one at a time. For example, put your effort into improving your eating habits, THEN start to focus on improving your exercise habits. Working on too many areas at one time often leads to failure with all areas you are working on. Create a list of which goals are most important to you. Make sure to have consistent success with each goal before moving on to the next goal. This makes the process more organized, less stressful, and easier to manage.
- Break It Down
You may have one large goal, like trying to quit smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or trying to lose 50 pounds. The goal can seem quite daunting and so far away when you first start working on it. It is important to break down your long-term goal into smaller, more manageable goals. Using the earlier examples, you can cut back from 20 to 15 cigarettes or reduce your weight 5 to 10 pounds in the first month. Moving in smaller steps has a greater chance of success than trying to do too much, too soon.
- Recognize Failure Can Lead To Success
Having realistic and achievable goals also means realizing it will not always be easy and you may not always reach your goals the first time. Roadblocks to success come up all the time. A family member gets sick, work responsibilities change, or the holiday season gets busy and stressful. Realize that this is part of the process to success. Go into accomplishing your goals with a mindset of learning throughout the entire process. Be open to better ways to address and succeed at your goals as you go along.
Whether working on many small goals or one large goal, always take time to break down your goals into manageable pieces. It takes time, effort, and patience to achieve long-term success. Learn from your experiences to find the best ways that work for you. While it may not always be easy, make it as manageable as you can to give yourself a realistic chance to achieve your long-term goals.
CHES, ACE Health Coach, AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant