Whether or not you’re a New Year’s resolution type of person, we all have goals for self-improvement or habits that we’d like to change.
But often, even when we have the best of intentions, only a small percentage of us actually follow through and make our resolutions a reality. This can leave us feeling frustrated and discouraged.
But the problem is usually not with us; instead, the problem is often the goal itself and how we approached it. At Church Health, our health coaches work with our patients and our staff on creating “action plans”, which can help to make those big, overwhelming goals more achievable.
Action planning involves taking a long-term goal and breaking it down into small, specific, short-term actions that build on each other and keep us moving in the right direction. So instead of trying to make drastic lifestyle changes overnight, pick one small thing to start with and then answer these questions:
- What are you going to do?
- How much are you going to do?
- When are you going to do it?
- How often are you going to do it?
Take, for example, everyone’s favorite New Year’s resolution: exercise. Instead of just saying, “I want to exercise more this year,” your action plan might say “For the next two weeks, I will walk for 15 minutes, after work, three times a week.” That’s a specific, action-oriented, and measurable short-term goal. At the end of those two weeks, evaluate how it went – what went well, what was challenging, and what you could change. Then, write another action plan that builds upon the previous one. Approaching goals in this way can help set you up for success and keep you moving toward your long-term goal.
Remember, meaningful lifestyle change is about progress, not perfection.
This is Erica Perkins, Health Promotion Coordinator at Church Health.