Your Most Important Health Goal (and how to reach it)
Post holiday indulgences are often served with a side of indigestion and possibly some guilt. Come January we tend to swing in the opposite direction and many of us are inspired to follow a diet or exercise program.
But going from one extreme to another can be hard to wrap the mind around.
Our brain is made of thousands of neural pathways that help us move through the world without having to think too much about what we’re actually doing. After all it would be exhausting if you had to think every time you walked down the street, drove your car or rode your bike.
Our habits are formed based on these pre-existing networks ... and the craziest part is that we have the power to change them because neural pathways are bi-directional.
Your existing networks determine your actions and habits, but your thoughts and behaviors also have the power to create new neural pathways and change subconscious habits and behaviors. This is called ‘neuroplasticity’. Declaring your goals is the first step to creating a significant change, but it takes much more to make these goals a reality.
Manifest Your Goals
Journaling is a powerful way to solidify your intentions and make them real.
Use this writing exercise to dream, plan and manifest your goals.
The first step in working towards a goal is defining what it is that you want. Getting specific helps your goal makes the process feel more exciting and tangible. Let’s say you want to lose some weight and get fit in 2017 – instead of thinking about the extra weight and how heavy you feel, try and get specific about the numbers. Goals that can be measured are especially rewarding because you can literally measure your own progress. Weight loss is easy to quantify because you can frame your goals numerically. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds over the next six weeks you can easily see how you measure up (pun intended). But there are other ways to get specific about less tangible goals – see the worksheet download for writing prompts.
It’s much easier to define what you don’t want instead of what you do want. The words you use to speak to yourself are important because they help to determine your success. The brain has a difficult time processing negatives – if the mind is constantly poking at how tired you are or how ashamed you feel of eating sugar then you will end up feeling more tired and guilty about overeating.
Words are powerful. Depending on how we frame our thoughts, we speed up the law of attraction and begin to manifest these beliefs regardless of if they’re negative or positive. Get your thoughts down on paper – they might surprise you.
Instead of thinking about what you want to move away from or eliminate, is there a way to re-frame your thoughts to what you do want? For example, the above resolution might be reframed into thinking about how energized you want to feel in the morning or how peaceful and graceful you will feel around food.
Define (and then do) the work
Now that you have a goal and vision of what you want, define what you need to do to get there. Yep – it sounds obvious but this is the hard part and tends to be where most of us resist following through.
Changing your habits is uncomfortable. But taking one step at a time and just defining what needs to happen can make the process feel more tangible and less overwhelming.
Imagine that you’re standing on the edge of the cliff and you want to get to the other side. Before you can do that you need to build a bridge and lay each individual plank before crossing over. Goals are similar. Get honest about the investment - this might be time, money, energy or conscious thought.
Failing to plan is like taking a blind leap of faith – you probably won’t make it to the other side of the cliff if you jump – and you probably will fail to reach your goals without doing the work. Take the time to plan and be honest of what you need to do to build your metaphorical bridge.
Plan for the worst
Expect hiccups in your plan. Things rarely go according to how we want them to, but setting realistic expectations can help empower you when they do happen. What are situations that will make it hard for you to follow through? Is it when you’re stressed out or at a birthday party? Identifying these times and coming up troubleshooting what you can do beforehand make these challenges more empowering.
Striving for perfection would be exhausting and incredibly disappointing. No one can be on 100% of the time. Allow yourself flexibility in your plan.
When it comes to clean eating, I like to follow the 90/10 rule. Eat on plan 90% of the time and allow flexibility or indulgences the remaining 10%. Get intentional about when you go off and enjoy the textures, aromas and flavors of your food.
Supportive friends and family help encourage you towards reaching your goals. Who are the skeptics versus the cheerleaders in your life? There will always be those cynics and people who deplete your energy. Choose to stick with those friends who uplift you and continue to encourage you to reach your goals.
Are you serious about achieving your goals? Get specific and dreamy by using this goal setting worksheet in order to reframe your goals and turn your resolutions into a reality.