As a health coach I occasionally work with clients who move toward their goals like an arrow toward a bulls-eye. More often however, there are times in the journey to health when people really battle to stick with their health program. Why is that? What is it that separates the two groups?
I can identify certain qualities and patterns in my clients and colleagues who have been successful in achieving their heath goals and the health coaches I have met who have achieved long-term health and ultrahealth:
Successful people have a strong and detailed image of what they want to achieve.
Nearly always, in the process of getting healthier, the initial momentum toward health is geared toward getting out of pain, physical or mental. Focusing on getting out of pain is a limited mindset and will only carry you so far, because the will to stay on track gets smaller as the pain gets smaller. The most successful people I work with do not focus on their pain. They have a big, clearly defined future outcome. If you are struggling to stay on track it will be helpful to examine where it is you are hoping to go, and in what ways EXACTLY life will be improved when you get there.
Successful people do not plan for failure, but they do plan for Very Special Circumstances.
My most successful clients are consistently maintaining a high confidence level. If they are going to a wedding or a big holiday is coming up they do not plan to fail. I am not saying that they stay on their health plan 100% every day. Nobody does that! But, suppose their health program says “No Cake.” They may plan to have a piece of cake in a Very Special Circumstance. Successful people plan when and how much they will deviate from their health program. Planning a deviation turns a slice of cake from a mess-up to an acceptable treat. What do many of us do after we “mess up?” We really beat ourselves up – and then that drives us to really go off the rails. So, don’t mess up, PLAN.
Successful People Don’t Make Excuses
Everyone makes mistakes; failures to plan ahead, poor choices, distractions from priorities. However, successful people do not spend a lot of time justifying mistakes. Mistakes are learning experiences. Excuses do not change the outcome of a mistake, except to maybe make you feel better, which can make is easier to have the same misstep again.
Successful People’s Goals Are Woven Into Their Daily Routines
Routines, routines, routines. I would challenge any of us to identify a successful person who does not have strong routines surrounding their area of excellence. The activities that support your healthy choices need must be on the schedule FIRST. A healthy routine cannot be made cramming your workout or trip to the grocery store in while you are scrambling to do other things. Is it daunting to imagine scheduling yourself to exercise or meditate or preparing healthy food? Try setting just one appointment for self-care this week. As you add healthy routines, track your progress. Just as it is essential to have a detailed vision of the future you desire, it is also essential to review progress as part of your routine.
Successful people are not afraid to fail
Simply put, you must be sometimes in the position to fail or you will never have the ability to succeed. Fear of failure is the shortest route to not-even-gonna-try. One mental experiment you might try is the “What’s the worst possible outcome?” Sometimes the worst case possibility, unlikely as it is, isn’t even that scary.
We sometimes avoid striving to be better because we are afraid it will be “too hard.” There’s a choice between the difficulties of adopting the mindset of success, better habits and routines OR the difficulty of living with the things that you wish were better about yourself, which difficulty do you choose?
Whatever the path you are following, winding or straight, feel the joy in your journey, keep learning and always be kind to yourself!