By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH
Do you ever find yourself losing interest in something you know is good for you? Maybe you took a healthy living course and for a while you were gung ho to make changes in your life…but then the determination faded — and you found yourself going back to your old, bad health habits.
If you do…you are not alone.
The key to continuing down the path towards better health and wellness (or whatever goal you have set for yourself) is to keep a positive mindset and to not allow yourself to get discouraged–even when you experience a setback. Not sure how to maintain your motivation? Read on–this guide will give you some practical tips on how to do just that.
– Step 1 –
Be Proud of Yourself, Today
Before anything else, it is important to recognize all that you have already accomplished. Take a few minutes and really think about it and write them down (and do not sell yourself short!):
I am proud of myself for the following reasons:
1 – ______________________________
2 – ______________________________
3 – ______________________________
4 – ______________________________
5 – ______________________________
6 – ______________________________
7 – ______________________________
– Step 2 –
Make Simple Daily Goals
Even if you have already made great strides in the past few weeks and have already reached your personal health goals—maybe you are eating less salt, have started an exercise regimen, or you’ve cut down on smoking—that’s wonderful. But don’t stop now! Continue to make daily, small goals for yourself. As you know, the key is to make each goal realistic and achievable (by breaking them down into doable steps) so that you can look back and really get a sense of the progress you have made.
– Step 3 –
Put it on Paper
As you set each goal for yourself, be sure to write them down. As you make progress toward your goals, check them off, and if you do something that wasn’t a part of your plan, write that down too. We recommend investing in a small weekly planner or a nice journal and to use that as your Healthy Living Journal. Whenever you need some motivation, flip back to the previous weeks, look at what you’ve accomplished, and realize that you can do it.
– Step 4 –
Find People to Cheer You On
Everyone needs a cheering section–someone who will give you a reason to keep going even when you can’t seem to find motivation from within. Try to find at least 3 people–a spouse, friend, a coworker–even someone from the WordPress blogosphere. Ask them to give you encouragement and hold you accountable as you work to reach your goals. Call, text, or email them when you can’t muster up the determination to make healthy choices or when you feel like giving up. Sometimes all it takes is one supportive friend to get you back on track.
– Step 5 –
“Be the Tortoise”
We all know what happened with the Tortoise and the Hare (the tortoise won). This is because there is truth to the idiom—slow and steady does win the race. When it comes to healthy living (or reaching your personal goals), it’s not just about how fast you were able to go yesterday, or that you were able to accomplish a week’s worth of goals in two days; rather, the important thing is to continue down this journey steadily until you reach your goal. Remember: real change takes time, and the same applies to most things in life—especially your health. Be proud of yourself at the end of each day, and never stop pressing forward.
– Step 6 –
Be Kind to Yourself
Even if you find yourself being more like the speedy Hare rather than the steady Tortoise—perhaps you had a great start but eventually found yourself in a place where you felt like you’ve lost the race—it’s absolutely okay! If your goal is to live healthy and you slip up one weekend and scarf down four bags of potato chips, or you stop exercising for a month and realize you can’t even walk for half the duration you were at before—it’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up for it, and definitely do not stop trying. Everyone—even the most motivated and determined–has failures. The important thing is to acknowledge it, forget it, and keep on going.
– Step 7 –
Celebrate Each & Every Day
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Regardless of what kind of past you’ve lived or how you anticipate your future to be—regardless of your failures and successes—nothing is more valuable than the present moment. Simple moments—moments spent with loved ones, moments doing what you love, even mundane hours spent at home or work—never hesitate to pause and appreciate what you currently have. So go ahead and savor life’s simple pleasures….
…you won’t regret it.
Want to keep this information handy for future reference?
Below is a printer-friendly handout with all these tips on one sheet!