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It’s early spring, so I opened the windows of my home office to the sounds and aromas that herald the new season. Spring often ignites in me a motivation to set goals or start new practices.
Have you ever set a goal or started a practice and one week in something derails your progress? Maybe for you, the slightest change in your schedule or change in your health distracted you from moving forward. At that point, it’s tempting to slip back into the bad habit you were trying to reform.
Everyone messes up. It’s inevitable. You can wage war on yourself for not reaching a goal or being inconsistent with a practice.
Or you can offer yourself some compassion remembering that you aren’t perfect.
You forgot about an appointment. Now, you have to pay a fifty-dollar missed appointment fee.
Yelled at the kids.
You skipped barre class. Instead, you went to your favorite coffee hang-out and ordered a large latte with extra whipped cream.
You’ve fallen a week behind in your devotions.
You canceled on a friend.
You went to a wedding and ate two tiramisus of your own and half of your husband’s. What will you tell your health and wellness coach?
My Epic Fail
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my new practice of soulful listening. In that post, I shared some of my strategies to maintain focus during a conversation and to cultivate active listening.
For the most part, using the strategies improved my listening skills. Without a doubt, the strategies foster awareness about the importance of active soulful listening.
The other day, one of my daughters sat in the chair next to my desk. Trying to meet a deadline, I found it difficult to pull myself away from my task completely.
She needed to talk about an issue with one of her courses at college. I managed to do a 180 from my screen and offer a half-listen. The kind of posture that communicates I am interested enough in what you have to say but not willing to give you my full attention.
Five minutes into the conversation, I glanced at my screen and grabbed my mouse. Pivoting from screen to my daughter, I realized I drifted so far from the conversation that I asked her to repeat something she said.
Did you start a new eating plan, but illness plagued your household and cooking meals was out of the question? Was it your intention to exercise more during the week, but work projects created longer days and zapped your remaining energy.
Like most of us, at some point in your goal setting or new practice, you experienced a setback. There is no need to pour on self-condemnation.
Instead, you can recover from the experience and learn a few things along the way.
How to Revive Your Goals and Practices
Let’s suppose that you decided that meal planning would help you prepare healthier meals, especially during the workweek. For the last two weeks, you’ve been a meal planning ninja.
Saturdays have been your prep day. So far, it’s been smooth sailing. Then a hectic weekend forced you to skip meal prep. And you haven’t caught up since.
Now it’s time to reframe the situation. At this point, it would be easy to pile on the guilt for getting derailed and not getting back on track.
Reframe your mistake like this, “I managed to meal plan three out of four weeks this month.” Put the setback in perspective. You planned meals for three out of four weeks. That’s 75 percent!
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, teaches that “Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings and unattractive when we associate them with negative feelings.“
Think about how meal planning reduced your stress. When you arrived home after a long day at work or a busy day with the kids, you had dinner under control.
You had an attractive strategy and system set up for meal planning.
Move forward in your meal planning, but this time build in an alternate time to plan if busyness sabotages your meal planning.
Routine is the outcome of a habit. First, you have to establish a habit. At the beginning of the month, you decided to reclaim your health by making better food choices and breaking bad food habits.
Setting goals was a critical factor in transforming your eating habits. Each week you met with a friend to review your health goals. One week your friend had a family emergency so you couldn’t get together.
So you limped along until your next meeting. Finally, the day arrived when you would meet, but your son woke up with a fever.
Without accountability, you envision your health goals drifting aimlessly.
Don’t beat yourself up for not meeting the goal. Restore your routine with these backup tools.
1. Structures are memory cues or tools that remind you about your habit, goal, or practice.
Common structures many people use are phone alarms, sticky notes, screen savers, strategically placed photographs, an object in your pocket, or a handmade sign.
Another structure would be to leave your car keys in the refrigerator on top of your lunch. That way, you won’t forget your healthy lunch.
It’s important to change structures from time to time to prevent boredom.
2. Tracking Tools
Habit tracker serves as a visual reminder of your progress in acquiring a new skill or habit. Without realizing it, you’ve probably used some form of a habit tracker.
Basic habit trackers:
- Food journal (my Healthy Eating Starter Kit comes with a printable food journal)
- Habit Tracker Sheet (here’s a free one)
- Lifestyle Tracking Diary
Repair or readjust
Motives shape and drive our goals and practices. When you set goals and form new practices, consider what you are going after? Who or what does your goal or practice exalt?
Consider this, how does the goal or practice fit in with your overall health and wellness plan?
Ask yourself, “What do I want out of this goal or practice?” Be honest with yourself.
As a faith-based health and wellness coach, I help clients define health and wellness goals that allow them to serve God and others from a place of spiritual and physical wholeness. Before establishing a goal or practice, ask yourself “who” the goal or practice serves?
At this point, your inner critic will attempt to try and creep in and sabotage any progress you’ve made so far. Ignore or ghost your inner critic; it’s an imposter anyway.
Late missionary and author, Elizabeth Elliot advises,
“Do not try to fortify yourselves against emotions. Recognize them; name them, if that helps; and then lay them open before the Lord for His training of your responses. Discipline: The Glad Surrender
Write this down and put it in plain view, “Making a mistake is an opportunity for personal growth.”
Here’s some help in restoring your goals or practices:
- Find some accountability. Get some help from a friend
- Start simple, take small steps
- Be specific about how you will implement the goal or practice
- Select the timing, duration, and frequency of your goal or practice
- Set a daily reminder about your goal or practice
- Keep a journal of your goals and practices. Use your journal to find out what’s working and what’s not.
Whenever I lean too hard on myself, I remember Martin Luther’s words:
“We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road.“
Do you need accountability for health goals and wellness practices? Soulful Health and Wellness Coaching can get you started down the path on a journey of lifestyle healthy living.