Ready to shift into a healthier lifestyle? Follow these 4 simple principles for lasting change in any aspect of your life
Achieving your lifestyle goals needs to be intentional. Defining your goals, shifting your mindset, and enlisting the support of others are essential ways to ensure that you achieve your lifestyle goals.
Change of any kind is the hardest thing to initiate, push through, and maintain… but it is essential if you want to create a healthy life.
After I suffered a triple brain hemorrhage following a traumatic accident four years ago, I spent a great deal of time on the cognitive, emotional, and mental aspects of ‘change’. Having to completely re-identify with myself and adjust to a new normal, I recognized the depths to which we internalize our habits and behaviors. I also knew I needed people in my life to push me through the frustration, help me identify my obstacles, and encourage me. This experience further fueled my work as an accountability and wellness coach and reiterated to me the importance of setting goals and changing your mindset.
1. Define Your Goals
Change starts with defining your goals. Not just extrinsic goals, like “I want a bikini body in 30 days“, but also intrinsic goals, such as “I want to feel better about my efforts to be healthy“. Whether you are focusing on immediate, short-term, long-term, or life-long goals, it’s essential to identify the mile-markers that will get you to that finish line. For example, if you set a short-term extrinsic goal to build more lean muscle mass, on those days when working out seems like a chore, you can look back and remind yourself what all the hard work is for and why you started your journey to change.
2. Shift Your Thoughts
Shifting your thoughts is an equally important part of creating a healthy lifestyle.
If you don’t change your thoughts to reflect the positive and healthy lifestyle you want, there will always be a roadblock preventing you from reaching your best.
One significant way to shift your thoughts is to implement positive self-talk. By changing how you look at things, you can shift from criticizing yourself for how far you have to go, to congratulating yourself for how far you have come.
3. Forgive Yourself
Another important part of healthy lifestyle change is to learn to forgive yourself for any failures big or small. This is especially true when dealing with the ups and downs of a wellness journey. For example, you may not always eat as well as you’re ‘supposed to’ but being able to forgive yourself and move forward will prevent you from becoming stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk.
4. Be Accountable
In the end, accountability is the key to success. No matter how many goals you set and how kindly you speak to yourself, if you’re not held accountable, the changes you make are likely to only be short term.
One way to hold yourself accountable on your journey is by keeping a journal that allows you to reflect on your progress. Another way is to create a binder or have a designated folder with all the educational material you need at your fingertips.
If your goal is weight loss, for example, this may include sample menus, quick and easy recipes, visual cues for serving sizes, and eating out tips. Imagine how helpful those quick recipes will be when you come home after a long day at work and an even longer parent-teacher conference, or sports practice later that evening. Instead of reaching for that starchy box of pasta, your binder might hold a quick and healthy recipe such as cauliflower penne a la vodka.
Recipe research and planning for a healthy living program can be a fun activity on your own, but enlisting colleagues, friends, or family to help you can make it an even more fun and effective way to ensure success. Sharing your process of change helps to fortify your support system and develop camaraderie. That’s why I encourage group meal prep sessions as well as designating someone to be responsible for preparing lunch on particular days of the week for everyone in your group.
In addition to working with others, the best way to hold yourself accountable is to find a responsive coach in addition to enlisting a friend, colleague, or family member to get healthy with you. Ideally, you’ll be able to hold each other accountable and serve as a sounding board for any struggles that occur throughout the journey. Together, you can create strategies for personal success.
If you don’t have access to someone nearby, the beauty of the society we live in today is that you can connect with others through online communities, websites, and apps. It’s one of the reasons why I created my new app, Living with Ashley, so that people have a 24-7 community to turn to and help motivate and guide them.
You may also enjoy reading Radical Responsibility: The Key To Moving From Suffering To True Agency & Freedom by Fleet Maull