Let’s be real.
Those of us who have goals around health and wellness aren’t perfect. (That’s OK, by the way!) From time to time, we’ll make decisions that are contrary to the promises we make to ourselves. Some examples of goals we might have include:
- Limiting sugar | caffeine | alcohol | chocolate intake
- Exercising | moving more
- Going to bed or getting up earlier
- Reducing time spent watching TV | playing on social media
You get the idea.
So what happens to the day or the week when, for example, you have more than the amount of <whatever> you said you’d have; you fail to exercise, to get to bed / wake earlier, or to limit your technology usage? I’m sure some of you can relate to the feeling of, “oh f**k it, since I did / didn’t do X I might as well (either do more X or do Y too)…”. A rebel rises to the surface, pointing out that we haven’t been perfect so “why not just toss the whole stupid idea out the window!” It can be very tempting, especially when that rebellious part says, “you can just start over tomorrow / next week”. (In coach-speak, we call this “self-negotiating.”)
So here are 5 strategies to help you get back on track, in the present moment. In other words, RIGHT NOW!
- Uncover the lesson and use it to create a new strategy: Write down why you did / didn’t do what you wanted, how it felt at the time and/or how it feels now. Coming from the perspective that you did exactly what you needed to do at the time, explore what you could learn from the experience. What might you do differently if that situation arises again? For example: “I ate the brownie because really I was dehydrated and needed more water. The next time I have a brownie craving, I’ll have a glass of water first.”
- Stop making specific promises altogether: Instead, bring more mindfulness to your daily activities, pay closer attention to how you feel, and honor the higher goal of “progress”–getting a little healthier each day. Let go of “measuring” every detail and allow yourself to be more intuitive about what is good for you and what isn’t. In other words, focus on the big picture rather than the details.
- Put it in perspective: Someone passed along to me a great quote from Jillian Michaels, which was along the lines of “so you messed up and didn’t stick to the plan — so what? You didn’t ruin anything. If you have one flat tire do you then slash the other three?” One or two or even five of anything doesn’t mean the rest of your day or week is done for.
- Move to a different environment or just move your body: Just ate an entire bag of chips after sitting at your desk for hours? Go for a walk outside. Sometimes change happens from the inside out. Other times, it can happen from the outside in. Maybe next time you think about having chips, you’ll realize you just need a break, and take the walk instead! (See point #1.)
- Create appointments with yourself (and set reminders): Schedule the time you’ll spend online, the time you’ll exercise, or even the time you’d like to go to bed. When your timer goes off, stop, and do what your reminder tells you! Have trouble stopping and taking a lunch break? Put it on your calendar with a note to yourself. Here’s one of mine: “Lunch: GET UP & TAKE A BREAK!” Maybe at 9 pm, you set a reminder on your phone that says, “Charge me, shut me off and go read your book in bed!” If it’s scheduled, honor your commitment as you would attending a doctor’s appointment, or going to a beloved friend’s wedding. You deserve to keep commitments you make to yourself!