In January, many of us challenge ourselves to make a leap of self-improvement. We set our sights on a goal weight. We vow to add more healthy foods to our diets. We commit to getting to the gym. These will all improve our health, but how do we get there, and how do we make our motivation last?
At Pack Health, our Health Advisors talk to Members every day about how setting small goals can add up to big results. We call them Tiny Steps, and they’re a great way to stay motivated as you reach for the ultimate goal of your health-improvement journey. When we get in the habit of practicing healthy behaviors — and celebrating wins, big and small — huge changes become possible. Here’s the real secret: Once you start, you’ll start to feel better mentally and physically before you cross the finish line.
So: If a big part of your job is to help people set goals, what do you recommend for the long term? We asked three Health Advisors to find out.
Health Advisor Charles
Charles takes a big-picture view. When setting a big goal, he said, it’s important to discover your motivation first. Charles calls this the “deep-seated ‘why.’” Discover why you want to strive for a goal, then set the goal. That motivation could be to prevent an adverse health event, to engage more with children or grandchildren, or to take part in a special occasion.
“In a lot of cases it seems that the most successful people are the ones who are doing a specific goal for a specific reason,” Charles said. “An athlete trains and eats well not because he likes it, but because they have a sport they love so much and want to be better at it so much, that they are willing to go through long-term routines and hard work.”
Health Advisor Mikey
Mikey said his first advice is to think about goal-setting as short-term, smaller goals that add up to larger achievements in the long term. To do that, Mikey and his colleagues recommend setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, which stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.
“When effort is cramped into the first few or last few months, then the work done on it is not as good,” Mikey said.
Just as important is not letting yourself forget about your motivation. What does that mean in practical terms? It could be as simple as a sticky note that reminds you.
“Whatever the motivation is, it must be present,” Mikey said. “Leaving as many reminders in plain view will help you to keep from forgetting what is important when things get tough. If the reason you want to start a change is out of sight, then it will be out of mind.”
Health Advisor Sarah
Sarah put it this way: “We talk about sustainable behaviors that are attainable” — the “A” in a S.M.A.R.T goal. “If they’ve been watching what they’re eating and they know the holidays are hard, I always encourage them to not restrict any foods,” she said. “If you totally restrict, you’ll binge later because you think you can’t have it.”
In other words, ask yourself: What is something that I can in the short-term to get me where I want to go?
What are your long-term goals? Your Health Advisor can help you get there. We’re here to help!