Starting a new year is a common stimulus to consider all the things we want to take on to improve our mental, physical and financial health. We "resolve" that things will be different this year - but will they? There are a few things we can do to help our new set of resolutions stick. But first, rather than stating a resolve, develop a plan. A resolution is where you want to go. A plan is how you're going to get there, and that calls for a change in H-A-B-I-T-S!
- Dream Big! Remember Jim Collins' "big hairy audacious goals"? There is nothing wrong with an ambitious aim (run a 10K, lose 50 pounds, stop smoking, save $2,000). State it, share it, write it down - that is your destination.
- Break the dream down into small steps. Write a list of all the related steps from the smallest to the largest that need to be done to achieve your goal. Work on them in that order with realistic practice of at least 80% of the time. An example might be that losing weight might start with just cutting down portion sizes by 25% and walk 15 minutes a day, where a later goal might be to have moved towards one half of the plate being vegetables and being able to walk 60 minutes a day.
- Pick a change you are truly ready to make. Take on habit changes that have more positives associated with them than negatives. This will make adopting a new behavior far more attractive.
- Commit yourself. Making your goal known, or public, increases your sense of personal accountability. Who do you not want to let down? Seek out those with like-minded goals to help provide support and encouragement.
- Reward every step achieved. Health changes are incremental. Acknowledge and share landmarks on your journey ($300 in savings account, 5 pounds lost, 4 weeks a non-smoker etc.)
- Learn from your own experience. When setbacks or plateaus occur, they too are opportunities for help get to your goal if you reflect on what is going on they may require an adjustment in your plan. This often happens when expectations are not realistic and don't allow for things that interrupt the plan. Stop/Look/Listen and get back on track - one small step at a time.
- Forget perfection! Any and every change in habit for the better is something to celebrate. All accomplishments along the journey matter. A marathon finished counts as much as one that was won.
To help you with your health goals for this year, consider some of the wellness programs available to you right here at The Chester County Hospital and Health System. Look to your health insurance company to see if it offers healthy living incentive programs that provide cash back for your participation. To find out more information about these and other programs, visit the Programs and Support section of this website for the full range of programs available to you. To register for any of these programs, call 610.738.2300.
By Julie Funk
The Chester County Hospital and Health System
Last Updated: 1/17/2011