When thinking of New Year’s Resolutions, we are quick to make goals and get started with little planning. These goals, though often meaningful, are often set as too difficult and without intense clarity as to why this is important to you. Sure, losing 50 pounds would be nice. Going to the gym five times per week is great. But both examples are missing a clear direction and a clear WHY.
To change, you must first know two things:
- Where do you want to end up?
- Why do you want to get there?
Having a clear direction is vital when establishing new habits. It not only gives you a goal to reach but also serves as a guide while you’re in the trenches of difficult effort. Any type of habit change is easy at the beginning but in order to sustain your effort and reach your final destination, you have to have the confidence of knowing you’re moving in the right direction.
If you are unsure where to start and where to end up, first try simply making a health inventory.
- What current diseases do you have?
- What diseases do you not want?
- Which areas of health have been easy to change in the past and which have been harder?
Picture yourself a year from now, thriving at your peak level of health and wellness. What does this look like? How do you feel? What behaviors are you doing consistently? Creating this vision for yourself can provide a clearer picture of where you want to go.
Good health requires us to play the long-game, focusing on long-term changes rather than quick fixes (like pills, fad diets, expensive clothes or technology). The best way to map out your direction is to start with your first step: what is one way you’re going to change that will start you toward your goal?
Keep this simple (“Instead of 2 sodas per day, I’m going to have one.” Or “I’m going to set out my gym clothes at night, even if I don’t go to the gym.”). You’re defining the simple but crucial first steps that are going to get you moving in the right direction.
Then comes the next step of habit change that we often skip: Define Your Why.