Many of my dog walks become a meander because our wee schnauzer never really goes for walkies with conviction. Oh! unless she sees a wee creature to chase at full pelt!!
I enjoy these meanders. Winding our way slowly with the purpose to enjoy the walk. No hassle! No pressure! No goal!
Here is the question. How would a meander help you achieve your lifestyle goals? Lets face it most 'journeys for lifestyle change' are a winding and twisting course as you fail, learn and adapt to keep going. Straight line, at full pelt is much more direct, much quicker and definitely more successful in a short period. But my wee schnauzer can not keep that up! Could you? Seriously for ever? I say for ever because to maintain your lifestyle goals you need to adopt the new behaviours for ever!
Maybe we need to find a balance. Decide what it is you want to achieve. Understand why it is important and what emotional attachment it carries. Plan a straight line course but be content to follow the meandering path when it is in front of you, still leading a somewhat winding route to success.
Here are a few basic goal tips.
Break down your goal into small individual steps or actions. Achievable goals are goals where you can influence and measure your progress towards them. Achieving long term life changing goals is a process of achieving, step by step, short and medium term actions.
1. What actions are required?
Decide the goal!
Then decide what action is required to achieve the goal. Your first action is always to always write your goals down. Putting pen to paper, and this is one time when a real pen and paper are required, gives your goals an existence of their own.
Writing a plan is an essential step in achieving your goals - without it you will, over time, amend the long term goal to fit your very enjoyable meander! This can eventually reduce your goal to a dream/wish, which only come true by chance.
So work out in detail how you are going to accomplish your goal. A detailed plan of what tangible actions are required is essential. These actions then become smaller shorter term goals leading to the big one!!
2. What steps do I need to take today?
Ask yourself this every day. By now it should be all planned in advance so check your plan and make sure you take each step every day. Often we don't know what will work until we start on the journey so if you discover additional steps are needed add them.
Small steps towards lifestyle change could include reducing alcohol intake from 5 to 3 beers per week, adding 15-30 minutes or exercise every other day, reducing 'coffee break' biscuits from 3 to 1. It is also very helpful to add a meaningful daily mantra. A few words that promote positivity and promote your self belief.
3. Review your achievements every week.
Motivational playback is a method to review the progress you have made. Look back at what has gone well. Record this and pat yourself on the back. See everything that has gone well as fantastic progress. Never play it down!
Then analyse what did not go so well. Again ask why? This requires an honest approach. Never feel bad, just learn why, be accountable and focus on improving this for next week.
Remember your plan is organic. It should always take into account what you will do today, tomorrow, this week, next week before the end of the month.
Don't write it and file it!!
Write it and pin it!
Pin it somewhere you will not ignore.
4. What if things go wrong?
Goals are difficult because they move you outside your comfort zone to do things differently. To be successful you have to face your own fear of failure and be confident in your ability to try and to succeed. There will be setbacks, expect them, they are part of the process. Goals that have an honest emotional attachment motivate and inspire more. So, always do things that will help you.
5. The trap!
Often goals for lifestyle change are driven by others expectations of who you should be, how you should behave. It is easy to then adopt these beliefs, let them define who you are, what you are capable of and what you should aim for. But this is the trap!
Social media provides a huge push toward this. It is common to want to fit in and yep we all want to be a part of the party!
Don't get trapped or wrapped up in knots.
Something to remember. We can all wear the black dress....in different sizes and styles! So avoid the trap, don't try to change the size or style unless that is something that you want to do, or feel you need to do for health and wellbeing.
Now all that said. Your Lifestyle for change journey will most probably be a mix of full pelt and meandering.
But that's ok. Stick to the plan and enjoy the journey.