Lasting change is made up of choices; one after the next, in groups or singly, and the consequences of those decisions begin to construct a pattern and a path. Eventually, that path leads to your future. Where do you want to be in two weeks? A month? Six months? A year? What you do today, no matter how small, will flourish and grown the way a seed planted in soil does. But you know that, and you came here for some quick tips and smart plans. Let’s get right to the point of this essay, then, so that you can get started on the perfect path to your own optimal health and wellness.
Before you even start, ask yourself this one question: What do I want?
It could be that you are not feeling quite as good as you want to feel and you don’t know how to change that. Maybe you want to lose some weight. If you have a chronic health condition, now might be the time that you decide to really take control of your situation. You could have something coming up in the spring and you want to look your best. Maybe you have decided that this year is it–you are going to set down the foundation for a lifetime of wellness. Maybe you are ready to learn about yourself and what you really need in order to be your best you: healthier, happier, and stronger. But that is individual to each person, and unique. Your first step, then, is to ask yourself what you want and to answer yourself honestly.
~~~Tip #1: Don’t wallow in it but do look back~~~
You’ve heard the clichés about leopards not changing their spots, how old dogs can’t learn new tricks, and the more modern iteration (“when someone shows you how they are, believe them” or some such variation). Takeaway? Yes, it is hard to change. And the odds for change–the capacity to successfully do something new and sustain it–are predicated on past behavior and success or lack thereof. It makes a difference when you are able to look, clearly, at your history and your coping mechanisms. Failure in the past does tend to predict challenge to do otherwise in the future. But there’s also another way to look at the subject. What about the saying “Fall down seven times, get up eight”? If you are determined, you can shift your strategy, you can make that change, and you can be successful.
It takes self knowledge. It takes the capacity to look at what has held you back in the past and how you must now make the necessary shifts (in habits, in thoughts, in actions) in order to get the ball rolling in the right direction. To start, you need to look back but not get stuck in wallowing. Figure out what you really want, take stock of what tripped you up in the past, and then get moving and start making some change.
~~~Tip #2: Identify sources of support~~~
Have you ever seen that Mr. Roger’s clip in which he talks about his mom’s lesson when he was fearful? He says that she told him to look for the helpers, to look around because there is always going to be someone who will help. If Mr. Rogers doesn’t do it for you, maybe the wise words of Albus Dumbledore will resonate: “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” (And trusting in this doesn’t mean you have to be a Harry Potter fan, though it helps; in truth, we all have the equivalent of a Hogwarts inside if we believe that somewhere, there is a source of help if we know how to ask for it).
If looking inside and figuring things out and doing something about it all by yourself were easy then nobody would ever search Dr. Google obsessively, find a health coach, or go to a therapist. Change takes a lot of self-discipline. It helps to have your sources of support identified. I’ve written about this elsewhere, but a health coach can do things for you that Dr. Google most certainly cannot (to read that essay, check here). Depending on your needs, you might consider therapy.
What are your goals? In what realms of your life do you need to find the helpers or to ask for support?
When your goals are health related, it can be just the right thing to take the middle ground. The right helper for you might be a case of more than Dr. Google but not quite the support provided by talk therapy. And that is a health coach who can help you to identify your goals and implement them. If you aren’t even sure where to begin, a short term contract with a coach can be educational and a fantastic way to identify your core concern. If you’ve never thought about a health coach? Take a second and look at my blog post on the subject, here. If you already know your focus and you already know that this has been an unending battle that you’ve thus far never won, a longer term really is your best bet. Most coaches (myself included) offer a short consultation at no or low cost to see if coaching is your best bet and how much time, should you decide to go that route, is optimal for you. (And an ethical coach–myself included–will be honest and tell you if it seems that therapy is in your best interests rather than coaching.)
~~~Tip #3: Believe in yourself~~~
Some of the most draining, demoralizing things in this life are self-doubt and self-recrimination. We all have our good points and we all have our weak areas. As I tell my clients: that’s called being human. Second-guessing and prevarication takes energy and ultimately exhausts a person. Finding one’s center and learning to become grounded and confident takes work but it’s worth it. Accepting that each of us has flaws (and knowing what to do with yours) alongside the strengths (and knowing how to leverage one’s strengths in order to make good use of them) is a gift that just keeps giving. Belief in your own ability to do something about your life and trust that you are worthy and good and capable can support you through every step of your life’s journey. If there is one central goal for anyone, it is, at root, this: believe in yourself.
Get started now. Whatever it is you choose, get started. With news cycles being what they are and with the instant gratification provided by smart phones, internet, and all means of electronic communication, we forget to be present. It’s too easy to tune out and to avoid things by sitting in front of a shining screen of some sort. Time flies, before you know it a new year is once again upon you, and the big question looms. To wit: what have you done with your life in the meantime?
One thing you can do in anticipation of working with a coach or a therapist is to make a few little changes in your daily routine. They don’t have to be huge things. Small shifts in habits make for large improvements as their benefits accumulate. Can you, for instance, do at least three of the following things today?
~~ **Go outside and take a deep breath** ~~ **Remember to stretch every hour** ~~ **Choose a mantra for today and repeat it to yourself as needed** ~~ **Smile** ~~ **Make an appointment for tui na or acupuncture** ~~ **Pause and really feel the sensation of your feet on the ground or your butt in the chair** ~~ **Recollect a time that you did something really well and bask in the feeling this memory gives you** ~~ **Look around you and see who might need a kind word or a helping hand** ~~ **Eat something healthy** ~~ **Take a nap** ~~ **Dream up a vacation or other future joyful activity** ~~ **Commit to health coaching or therapy** ~~ **Make your bed** ~~ **Get rid of something you’ve been hoarding and no longer need** ~~ **Thank someone for helping you** ~~ **Do something meaningful to you that is not on this list** ~~ **Believe in yourself** ~~ **Ask yourself what you really need and listen to your answer** ~~
Smart plans vary from person to person and what that means hinges one what the goal is for each individual. We’ve all seen the acronym for a smart goal, if we want to indulge in a last-minute cliché (“Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely”), but this acronym has stuck because it does resonate. The key to it, though, is the self-awareness and capacity to identify your own goals and what stands between you and success.
When you are ready to make some lasting and meaningful change, do think of health coaching, be it short or longer term. There is no time like the present, and it’s an investment in your future. One step at a time, and that journey of a thousand steps will be complete before you know it.
Where do you want to go in 2018, and how do you plan to get there?
Have you ever though to try traditional Chinese bodywork? At present, I offer tui na (similar to massage) and other ancient Chinese therapies, including cupping, gua sha, moxa, and more. If you are looking for a holistic wellness consultant and coach, my services can entail short or longer term programs. You are your own best investment, and when you take charge of your wellbeing you invest in yourself now and for the benefit of your future.
Two Hearts Wellness is a local holistic health and wellness outfit with a passion for all things nourishing, including but not limited to: joyful living, great food, art, and literature, and–of course–traditional Chinese medicine. If you want to learn more about me, click here and do feel free to follow my blog and/or my Instagram, connect with me on Facebook, or contact me here to set up an appointment for personal training or health coaching services. If you are interested in Asian bodywork therapy, click here to book an appointment online.