We’re six days into a new year. How many resolutions have you broken? Or do you avoid making resolutions because, based on your past track record, you expect to fail?
For many people, resolutions have to do with improving their health. Sadly, the resolutions people choose start with guilt about what they are doing wrong.
Taking charge of your health is a dynamic experience. The right combination and force must come together to produce a particular action or result. I believe the starting point is understanding you are a body-and-spirit being created and loved by God. When you grasp this, you glimpse the level of health—wholeness, well-being, connection to God and others—that God means for you to experience.
In the early stages of change, you want to be sure that what you expect to gain will outweigh what you give up. Will cutting back on comfort foods really make enough difference in my health to be worth the sacrifice? Will joining a support group really make it easier to go through a tough time? Will exercise really improve my sleep?
Goals are indispensable to changing behaviors and moving along the wellness spectrum. If you’re setting a goal, my first piece of advice is to meet yourself where you are. Find your genuine starting point, not one you think is more socially acceptable. Tell yourself the truth, not to beat yourself up about past failures but to establish a starting point for moving forward. Here are five quick tips to keep in mind as you frame your goals.
1. Behavior changes when you name the new habit. Simple actions make a big difference, but first you must state what the simple action is. Name the specific habit you want to form, and picture yourself doing it one step at a time.
2. Behavior changes when you see progress. Progress is something you can measure. How will you look back and see where you were and how far you’ve come? Give yourself landmarks by which to measure progress.
3. Behavior changes when you know what to do. Verbs are the stuff of life. What are you going to do? Break down big goals into specific action steps you can take within a specific period of time.
4. Behavior changes when it’s realistic to do what you plan. “Stop eating desserts” is not a goal. “Choose fresh fruit for dessert three times a week” is a behavior-changing goal.
5. Behavior changes when the end is in sight. Goals are not forever. Set goals with a time limit and then reevaluate how they’re working. Set short-term goals for developing new habits, give yourself small rewards for accomplishing them, then set new goals.
Where are you? Where do you want to be? Goals are the path in between.
Adapted from God, Health, and Happiness by Dr. Scott Morris. To order a copy, visit http://www.churchhealthcenter.org/products/godhealthandhappines.