By LISA KUEHNE
IU GOSHEN HEALTH
It’s largely true that achieving goals positively impacts our self esteem and motivates us to tackle other challenges in life. The inverse is also true; failure can damage our sense of self and make us wary to set and reach new goals.
When it comes to our health, we may desire change but don’t want to risk failure. The good news: There are ways to increase the likelihood for success!
Lasting change depends on a shift from negative feelings to a positive mindset. “I love how I feel after I exercise and don’t want to go sit around watching television all night,” would be a positive mental shift, for example. Another crucial element for change involves “autonomous motivation” (I want to make this change because it is what I want for my future, not because someone else thinks I should).
Have you recently considered making a change in your life with something such as your career or health, but struggle with where to begin? Here are some tips to help you think positively and jumpstart a change in your life.
1 — Start by looking on the bright side. What is working well right now relative to your health, wellbeing, career, etc? The answers may surprise you and help you to be energized to take on the challenge of change.
2 — Come up with your own vision statement for change. Ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to become or grow into?” and “What does that look like to me?” Finally ask yourself whether your vision aligns with what you value most. For change to be successful, it has to be aligned with your core values.
3 — Now focus on your strengths. What strengths and talents do you use in other areas of your life that you can draw upon? How can past lessons learned carry over to help you achieve this goal?
4 — It’s time to deal with obstacles and strategize. What barriers can you anticipate? If your goal is to lose 10 pounds before your high school reunion next month, and you realize a big obstacle is passing the vending machines at work every time you need to use the restroom, then plan a strategy such as bringing in healthy snacks (almonds or fruit) to keep you satisfied and less tempted to reach for a candy bar.
5 — Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, (i.e. I will drink 64 ounces of water a day), Action-based (specific actions such as I will bring my water bottle to work), Realistic and Timely (i.e. I will fill it first thing in the morning, at lunch, at when I clock out)
6 — Make sure you celebrate your successes — even the little ones. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s all about baby steps. It is better to set small goals where you can celebrate along the way. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds. Instead of making “50 pounds” your goal and only feeling successful at the end, set a goal of five pounds a month. Make sure your journey is rewarding and builds self-confidence. You’ll feel great at the end of each month when you’re five pounds lighter instead of beating yourself up because you’ve only lost five pounds and you want 50.
Real change — becoming your “best self” — requires self acceptance and courage. There will be setbacks and new barriers you never anticipated. Each slip is an opportunity to learn and grow. Change is all about progress, not perfection.