Here are my top 3 tips for prioritizing your priorities in 2020!
If you could snap your fingers and change your health status, how would the ideal, healthiest version of you live? Would you have more energy? More motivation? More peace, knowing that you’re on the right track? Take a minute to envision the benefits of how your life would be different – even in small ways – if you became as healthy as you want to be. Do you have an image in your mind? That image – that ideal version of you – is who you want to become and how you want to live. Now we work backwards to get there.
The best advice I’ve ever received in this arena is to live as the person you want to become. You’ve been making health decisions as the person you are right now; past experiences, yo-yo dieting, weight fluctuations may be real fears because of the things you’ve tried and the results you have (or haven’t) gained in the past. Now go back to that image in your head of your healthiest self. This person doesn’t have those fears because they are confident in finding out and following through on the things that will make them feel their best. The gap between who you are in this exact moment and the healthiest version of you is only separated by one thing: progress. The more progress you make – the small steps you take to become just a little healthier at a time – the more you move on the spectrum from present you to future you.
You cannot be the same person you were yesterday if you’re taking steps you’ve never taken before.
As we approach a brand new year (and a brand new decade), I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the habits that I want to develop over the course of 2020. Hydration, increased protein, the list goes on. I know that currently, I can be doing better in these areas than I am right now. You might be thinking, ‘Well it’s easy for you, you know exactly what to change to accomplish your goals.’ And you’re right. But I can guarantee that the process is more simple than you’re imagining: Just one small change at a time. And to prove that the factors involved are simpler than most people assume, check out next week’s email for the top 3 habits to develop to become healthier. To reiterate, once you develop even ONE of these habits, you are not the same person; you are now a healthier version of yourself who reaps the benefits of increased energy, better focus, and improved confidence.
So how do we work backwards from that vision of our ideal healthiest self? Instead of deciding on the benefits you want to see and then choosing habits that will improve that specific area, there is an easier way. If you make an improvement in the foods you eat or the amount you exercise, you will see benefits across MANY areas. This negates the need to choose the perfect habit to practice. Luckily, if you create a healthy habit – any healthy habit – you’ll experience improvements in your everyday life. It also propels you to tackle the next habit and the next one after that.
It’s important to recognize that the way you think about healthy habits changes as you tackle them one at a time. For example, let’s say you begin with practicing increased hydration. For the first couple of weeks, it’s a challenge. It’s something new that you’re trying to incorporate into your day and it takes a while to remember to drink that water often. But then after 3 weeks or so, your water intake has increased and it takes very little thought to remember to hydrate. Once you’ve accomplished incorporating that habit into your life, you’re able to use that experience to give you mojo to tackle the next habit, one that’s a little more difficult. In order to become the healthiest version of you, you’ll have to practice behaviors that are new to you. But once you start implementing those new behaviors and you see that it only takes practice and repetition, the next habit doesn’t seem so scary.
Just as it’s important to create new behaviors, it’s equally important to reflect on the things that you’re currently doing that are either helping you reach for your healthiest self, or the things that are limiting your progress. Instead of sabotaging yourself later in the process, just take the 10 minutes to think this through before January 1st:
- Are there habits that you’re currently practicing that are making you healthier? Are you sleeping well? Do you eat a homemade meal for dinner every night? My guess is that everyone is doing something that makes them mentally or physically healthier every day or every week. Recognize these now so that you intentionally hold onto the practices that are currently working for you. Every time you notice a daily or weekly habit that makes you healthier, don’t overlook it! Acknowledge it as a win and feel confident knowing that you’ve already developed even just one healthy habit.
- Are there habits you’re currently practicing that are making you less healthy? This can be a scary question to ask of ourselves because of the guilt or judgement we feel when we acknowledge a daily behavior that is working against our goal. Based on personal experience, it seems that the negative feelings stem not only from feeling guilty for practicing that behavior, but also from the overwhelming feeling that you must fix it. “Fixing” is not what this is about; it’s about truthfully acknowledging what is and isn’t working in order to set yourself up for success. Guilt does not have a place here; if you’re honest with yourself and recognize the things that you may or may not have realized were working against you, that acknowledgement is enough for now. Simply being aware of those behaviors has a significant impact on results; conversely, constantly ignoring the thing that’s making your progress more difficult will continue to chip away at your confidence. Confidence isn’t something to take lightly! Your belief in your ability to achieve your goal is absolutely paramount to your success. Build your confidence by being honest with yourself and take pride in your ability to reflect on your behaviors without judgement.
- Do you know your WHY? What opportunities will the healthiest version of you have that you don’t have now? What will you be able to accomplish? How much more will you believe you can accomplish? If you’re unable to answer these questions than your vision of your healthiest self is not clear enough. And remember, this isn’t about the way you look. It isn’t about the way your clothes fit or what size you fit into or how big your muscles are. If your motivation is based solely on aesthetics, you’re not going to get far. Dig deeper to find reasons that propel you, reasons that are strong enough to commit to; reasons that make it difficult not to make a change. Our WHY inspires us, our goal focuses us, and our habits clarify our behavior. Without the WHY, the process falls like a house of cards.
Do yourself a favor and don’t wait until the new year to consider these questions. Knowing your starting point is extremely important in order to recognize victories along the way. And no victory is too small. A win is a win is a win! Ate broccoli with dinner but then had an entire 5-layer chocolate cake for dessert? That broccoli is a win and don’t you dare minimize it!! You must become your biggest cheerleader; this is a learnable skill and one that is absolutely crucial to your success. Just as drinking more water is a learnable habit, cheering yourself on is something to practice over and over and over again until you do it automatically. Will there be days when you feel like you screwed up? There absolutely will be, I can guarantee it. Those mistakes will not define your journey; your ability to get back up after falling off will be what separates you from the rest. You can be human and you can succeed; they are not mutually exclusive. And if you develop the practice of actually acknowledging your own wins, the pride you feel from getting back up will be way more powerful than any negative feeling you have for making a mistake in the first place.
You get to decide who you will become next year; you choose your own direction. Not choosing is still a choice; one that will cause others to choose for you. Your goal is important but the most significant part of this process isn’t what happens when you achieve your goal, but the person you become on the way towards your destination.