When it comes to healing or just general health and prevention, it can sometimes feel like there is a mountain to climb and a pressure to “get it all right.” Yes, we will always recommend high-quality sleep, stress management, movement, solid nutrition, healthy social interaction and removing toxins in addition to your treatment plan, but this is because they all matter.
We like to provide you with a roadmap but we know that change takes time and that perfection isn’t attainable.
When you are working on rearranging your habits and routine, you may find that what works for your friend or family member may not work for you. We are messy and unique creatures, and our lives can be unpredictable. As much as we would like to think linearly when it comes to personal health goals, it often just doesn’t tend to happen that way.
To illustrate… Your child gets sick and you are exhausted from getting up at night, so instead of making dinner you grab take-out for the second time this week. You had the best intentions of eating dinner out only one day a week or less. How are you going to react to this? Do you just throw in the towel and eat out the next few nights and dessert to boot because you are now “off plan”? Or do you recenter and just eat the next meal at home?
For someone who has a flexible approach, deviations aren’t a deal breaker but for someone who is more perfectionist, this deviation can cause anxiety and feelings of failure.
The key to finding success in the chaos of our modern lives is twofold:
Realistic, SMART Goals
Have you heard this acronym before? It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused and Time-Bound. You can use this to help you craft daily, weekly or monthly goals. Instead of saying to yourself, “I will exercise more” (which is not specific, measurable, results-focused, or time-bound), you might say, “I will go for a 20-minute walk 3 times this week.”
See the difference? You know for sure by the end of the week whether you met the goal or not. The key is setting goals that you can achieve, and then use this strategy with any behavioral change you are seeking. Going forward, you can begin to integrate more changes framed around SMART goals.
A Backup Plan
This takes a bit of work but can help keep you on track. Thinking through what you will do when the inevitable speed bump comes up allows you to have an acceptable option to both keep you on track with your goals yet allow for a change of plans. For example, if you are trying to avoid gluten, spending some time looking at area restaurants that offer gluten-free options will pay off when you do decide to eat out last minute. Simply choose a restaurant from your pre-set list and be okay with your decision.
The language we use with ourselves can drastically impact whether you succeed or not. Even the concept of succeeding or failing is framed very differently person to person. Trying to make lots of changes at once can be hard, and if you decide ahead of time you are going to be “perfect”, you will surely feel like you are failing.
Just remember to keep pushing ahead. Some weeks will go well, and some won’t. Just keep pushing forward and before long, you’ll have accumulated enough change and it will start to feel like your new norm.