Welcome to 2020! A new year and new – or renewed – resolutions. Whether you’re determined to manage weight, reduce stress, strengthen relationships, or volunteer your services, the first step in choosing what to tackle is understanding your values and priorities. Visualize how the change would look for you.
Ask yourself: If I make this change . . .
What positive effects will I experience: (example, if you choose to focus on volunteer work, you are likely to create new friendships; if you volunteer as a family, you’ll strengthen family ties).
What resources or support do I need?
How will I feel emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?
Changing behavior is tricky: it takes time, patience, good planning, and the willingness to accept setbacks even as you move forward. It takes at least 30 days to establish a new habit and become comfortable with your new routine, time requirements and available resources. And it takes at least 3 months or 90 days to get your body, mind, and soul into completely different habits, belief systems, and to settle into new paradigms. Plan for success and be realistic about outcomes by anticipating how you’ll handle challenges that pop up, whether its time constraints, external obligations, or lack of support from family and friends.
The following strategies can help you succeed.
Know Your Why. Why do you want to make this change? Motivation is an important predictor of behavior and, ultimately, success, so be honest about your why. How will success feel to you? Connecting emotion to your why strengthens your willingness to stick to the goal when things get challenging. I’ll feel less stress because I will have more space around the house if I clean out the rooms and closets. Write down your ‘why’ and post it somewhere visible.
Set Goals and Have a Plan. Anything you want to achieve isn’t about finding the time, it’s about making the time – and that choice is always in your power. If you’re unsure about forming goals and plan, ask your Naturopathic Doctor for assistance. Depending on what you are striving to change, you might set weekly or monthly goals.
Pull Together Resources. Sometimes the people we typically count are less than supportive of our goals, wondering how your commitment to change will affect them or your relationship. If you can’t find support in your immediate circle of influence, seek out a like-minded group, an accountability buddy, a life coach or counselor. Your health practitioner can assist with resources and make suggestions for keeping you accountable for your progress.
Celebrate Success! In your plan, note the markers at which you will celebrate success. Rewards need not be expensive, just meaningful for you. Keep in mind that some rewards might be a natural consequence of your lifestyle change: A smile from someone you have helped through volunteer work, donating clothes that no longer fit after weight loss, or having room for a new desk in a cleared out space.
In my office, I see variety of concerns sprinkled with good intent of needing and wanting change. Sometimes, there is a big gap between where one is at and where wants to get to. That gap can often feel overwhelming and filled with anxiety. My advice is always to define what goals you want to achieve, determining whether they are reasonable, and breaking things down into small bites. Using the metaphor of eating a meal – you are never going to swallow the whole plate at once, but you will definitely will take one bite at a time. The steps towards your goals need to be dealt with in the same way. Your health is always a continuous journey – it is imperative that it occurs one step at a time combined with a boatload of patience and understanding.
And don’t forget to call on your local Naturopathic Doctor for assistance in supporting you on this journey. Part of our job is also to be a health coach and walk with you side-by-side while you journey forward to achieving your personal health goals. We can help you carve out different strategies for good health in 2020.
Here’s to a positive ‘one step at a time’ start to 2020. Happy New Year!
Dr. Olena Gill, R.Ac., ND is a Naturopathic Doctor and Reg. Acupuncturist practicing in Oceanside and Gabriola on Vancouver Island, BC. She welcomes New Patients in all her clinic locations by telephoning 778 – 762 – 3099. Disclaimer: No information in this article should be construed as specific health advice. For customized medical advice, diagnosis and treatment, talk to your Naturopathic Doctor directly.