As another year creeps to a close, schedules are busting at the seams with holiday events and time with family and friends. The end of the year is not only busy socially, but it is also a time when businesses reflect on the progress of the year and plan for the new year ahead.
I recommend taking the same approach to your health as one would to an efficiently run business. In terms of your health, it is to reflect on the year or years past, plan the trajectory of the future, and start setting it in motion. This isn’t exactly about what you resolve to do in 2015, but who you want to become.
The fact is that resolutions fail. The reason they fail is that they are often unspecific action items lacking motivation behind them. Without understanding the big picture, we will never be motivated to take action
REFLECT AND TAKE INVENTORY ON 2014
Start by taking some time to reflect on the events of the past year, including goals, accomplishments, and unfulfilled goals. It is difficult to focus on all areas of your life at once, and each year has its own priorities: family, health, hobbies, and more. Take inventory of your priorities in 2014 and the result of focusing your attention in those areas. These reflections are important because they serve as motivators to grow and maintain our health. We want to stay well and optimal to see our goals come to fruition.
Here are some things to consider as you reflect:
- What goals are still in progress and which did not pan out as planned? Consider what got in the way of your progress on the unfulfilled goals.
- In terms of your health, have you been consistent with your yearly physicals? I encourage people to get regular baseline blood work to ensure a condition is caught quickly if there is a change.
- In the past year, have any new health concerns arisen or have any past health issues persisted or worsened? How are these conditions inhibiting you from fulfilling your goals? Stress is intertwined with every health condition.
- What did you experience over the past year that zapped your energy and what fed you even more energy? Identifying these triggers could affect how you prioritize your future goals.
DREAM UP YOUR FUTURE
There are several tools available for setting new intentions for the year ahead, including vision boards and mind mapping. No matter what method you choose to dream it up, it is often best done in a relaxing and quiet setting. You may find you want to go somewhere to complete this part, so pick a happy place for you (such as the beach, a hike, Muir Woods, Inspiration Point in the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, or Palace of Fine Arts).
I am old-fashioned and like to use a big piece of paper and pen. I start with my top three to four goals. For example, last year my health goal was to recover from an injury, reinstate a consistent exercise routine, and run a half marathon.
I started with a big health bubble and branched off all of the individual goals. From there, I broke down each goal into achievable bites. To work on injury recovery, I listed the practitioners I engaged to help me heal and the frequency with which I needed their services. My injury bubble started the cascade to my exercise regimen and half marathon training. Within this planning, I was able to create tangible tasks to help me reach my goals.
Here are some questions to get you started in setting your new intentions:
- How can you take your experiences from 2014 and earlier to make 2015 even better?
- Who/what do you want in your life?
- What are your goals for 2015? How important are each of these goals to you on a scale of 1 to 10?
- Based on your goals and the importance of those goals, create a new priority list.
- What steps are necessary for you to actualize each of your goals? Be specific to create actionable tasks.
- Who/what could hold you back? Create solutions (habits, support people — therapists, trainers, doctors, etc.) for each potential barrier.
ACTUALIZE THE DREAM
Last and most important, find a good place to put this work so you see it on a regular basis. If you don’t see it, you forget about it.
Here are two habits to keep you honest year-round:
- At the end of every day, write down three accomplishments and the top three things to do the next day. This habit creates an opportunity to appreciate the small steps you take toward a greater goal. Looking back on these can be quite helpful when you run into a bump in the road.
- If something is important to you and keeps you consistent, schedule it. Again, this reinforces keeping important items in front of you on a regular basis. It is easy to be carried away by a busy lifestyle, but scheduling important actions helps to hold you accountable.
PARTNER IN THE DREAM
Anything is possible if you want it badly enough, so take the time and know exactly what you want. Health creates space for us to be our best self and sets the foundation of all of our big life goals. No matter the goal, my recommendation is to get the ball rolling now to put power behind the execution in 2015.