8 steps to being the healthiest and happiest you’ve ever been

At the start of each year, many of us set New Year resolutions around being healthy and happy. We all articulate this goal in our own way. Some of us want to reduce our waistline or the number on the scales. Others want to beat running times or increase strength. Many want to eat less junk food. And as a client of mine recently put it, some of us want to experience more “ugly laugh” moments.

Then we go back to work. Back to school. Back to our “To Do” list. Back to keeping up with the busyness of our world. Life gets in the way. Before we know it, it’s time to set New Year resolutions again.

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My wish for you is that this year is different. That you make life-changing traction with your health and wellness goals. I have suggested 8 steps below to help you make this happen.

1. Identify how you want to feel and what you want to gain

We often think about how we want to be different. How we DON’T want to feel. What we want to LOSE. I encourage you to flip this on its head this year. Think about how you DO want to feel. What you want to GAIN. The person you want to be. The life you want to live.

Write this down as an affirmation or intention (e.g., “I want to feel confident, radiant, and energetic.”) – and put it in a prominent place where you will see it often. Then make a conscious effort to make choices based on this affirmation or intention.

Think about how you DO want to feel. What you want to GAIN. The person you want to be

2. Write positive and feelings-based goals

We need to feel connected to and inspired by our goals in order to achieve them. Goals that have a negative tone or are focused on a loss are generally not inspiring or motivating. They can be easy to: let go of; view as too hard; or make us feel like we are missing out on enjoyable things.

How often have you set a goal like “lose 10kg” or “quit smoking”? Even if this goal was important for your health, has it generally worked for you? If not, I encourage you write goals based on how you want to feel and what you want to gain this year.

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Positively worded and feeling-based goals like “To be the most vibrant, happy, and energetic I’ve ever been” or “To truly love, accept and appreciate my body and myself” can put us in a better headspace to be in action toward them. It is important to take ample time to reflect on your goals and articulate them in a way that will uplift and inspire you. We want them to make you smile. To make you feel the promise of an incredible life.

I encourage you write goals based on how you want to feel and what you want to gain this year

3. Note your starting point

Once we identify a goal, we often impatiently want to achieve it already. We race out of the gates, only to get exhausted half way around the track, and give up until (or if) a second wind comes.

Let’s do things differently this year. Start slowly, and first take note of where we currently sit with our goals. Identify our current feelings, behaviours, choices, and triggers.

For health and wellness goals, for example, you might:

  • Keep a food, movement, energy, and feelings diary to identify current behaviours and patterns
  • Keep a diary noting your negative thoughts, what triggers them, and what you do to ‘respond’ to them
  • Record your current fitness milestones
  • Do a wellbeing inventory (e.g., Are you due for a preventive health check? How many hours are you sleeping?)

Recording your starting point will help you see your progress in the weeks and months ahead. Taking the time to stop and ‘observe’ can also reveal ‘Ah ha!’ moments about how you can successfully move forward.

4. Identify your Personal Psychological Resources (PPRs)

We all have inner strengths and resources that help us get through challenging times and help propel us towards our goals. When we know what these inner strengths and resources are, we can more easily draw on them and use them to our advantage. Tips to help identify your PPRs include, thinking about:

  • What your best traits and qualities are – and asking others to tell you what they think they are too
  • How you’ve historically got through difficult periods in your life. What inner strengths did you draw on to get through these times?
  • When you have responded to a difficult experience or conversation in a constructive way. What did you do that was constructive?
  • What you have achieved in your life to date. What inner strengths did you draw on?

Once we identify a goal, we often impatiently want to achieve it already. We race out of the gates, only to get exhausted half way around the track

5. Create a vision

Now that we know our starting point and our PPRs, it can help to think ahead about where we want to be. What is our vision for the future? What would be the dream outcome? How would we feel when we’ve reached the goal?

Taking time to reflect and journal on this – or to create an inspiration board around it – can really help us feel connected to the goal and how life will feel when we’ve achieved it. It also gives us an ‘end point’ to move toward.

6. Regularly write action steps to lovingly step toward your goal

Decide on what intervals (e.g., weekly, fortnightly) you’re going to take to plan your action steps. Then sit down during those points and write what steps you’re going to take during that period. No matter how big your goal is, if you take loving steps toward it, each day or week, you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve.

It is important to be kind and gentle with yourself during this process. No matter how motivated you are, most goals wont happen overnight. Most won’t just involve consistent steps forward. You will sometimes step backward, not progress as quickly as you like, and feel unmotivated or impatient. During these times, return to your vision and how you want to feel – and remember to treat yourself with loving kindness.

No matter how motivated you are, most goals wont happen overnight

7. Focus on the present and your vision of the future, rather than on the past

It is important to reflect on life and to draw on the lessons we have learnt from past experiences. However, we can often get stuck in the past – which is not always the most motivating or inspiring place. When you find yourself here, try to focus forward. Think about your goal. How you want to feel. Your vision for the future. Then identify what you can do now to take a loving step toward that future.

8. Get an Accountability Partner or Partners

Enlist help. Surround yourself with people who will support you, inspire you, and hold you accountable to your action steps. Depending on your goal, this might include a life coach, personal trainer, psychologist, or health professional. Ensure your accountability partner is someone that makes you feel safe – but who will push you.

I hope these steps help you in achieving your goals this year. As a final note, make sure you celebrate the little and big wins along the way!

Featured Photo Credit: Nickay3111 via Compfight cc

Naomi-Arnold-Leaders-in-Heels-imgNaomi Arnold
Naomi is an award winning Business + Life Passion Coach, writer, speaker and human rights activist. She works with big hearted, creative and mission driven people who want to make a difference in the world. Through her coaching, writing, and award nominated Freebies Library at www.naomiarnold.com, she helps people embrace their uniqueness and live their version of a passion-fueled and purposeful life.