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On Goals–a Re-post

This week’s Healthy You Challenge is a chance for you to assess your successes and failures the past ten weeks. We do this periodically for a reason. Unless you look critically at how well you are meeting your goals, you will not make progress towards a healthier lifestyle.

Early last spring, we devoted an entire blog post to setting goals and keeping goals. What follows is a re-posting of the blog, Making Goals, Keeping Goals, written its entirety:

Making Goals & Keeping Goals

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As mentioned in Monday’s post, spring is a great time for reassessing and making new goals. For people who live with chronic pain, goal setting and follow through can be a key that unlocks the door to wellness.

It’s true.

Research is revealing more and more that chronic pain and lifestyle choices are intricately linked, especially those choices concerning diet, exercise, and mental/emotional wellness. So it stands to reason that how purposefully you live day to day can pay—or cost—you dearly in pain relief.

Here is where goal setting and goal keeping enters. What follows are some tips for creating goals and following through with those goals.

1. Find your motivation.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past 50 years, you know that smoking causes a multitude of horrible health issues, from lung cancer to chronic pain. Yet, you still smoke. Why is that? According to the Institute for Chronic Pain, it’s a lack of motivation. Do you really want to quit?  Setting and keeping goals is no different. No matter how much you know you need to make a change, you won’t make a change unless you are motivated to do it. Keep a picture of your loved one always in sight. Consider a future with a healthier you. Now consider it in the reverse. No one can create motivation for you. This is something you must find yourself and keep before you.

 

2. Work backwards into the details.

Most of us know when we need to make changes and what kind of changes we need to make. Where we struggle is in the details. We don’t know how to get specific. Begin with your broad goal in mind: lose weight, for example. Then get more specific: replace high starch foods for fresh fruits and vegetables. Now back into the specifics one more time: this week, replace breakfast cereal for a fresh fruit smoothie, or this week, replace dinner roll (or potato chips, or whatever high-starch carbohydrate you are eating) with fresh cut veggies and hummus (or guacamole) dip.

Here is another example:

Broad goal: Begin exercising.

More specific: Exercise four days a week.

For the week: This week, walk briskly for 30 minutes and spend 10 minutes afterwards in stretching and relaxation breathing on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

 

3. Set time frames and track progress.

In the same way that creating specific goals offers you direction, setting a timeline and tracking your progress offers you motivation. Your goal should determine the timeline you set. Be realistic. Don’t expect to lose 30 pounds in 30 days or to go from couch to marathon in four weeks. Unrealistic expectations will only derail your efforts and more than likely land you in worse shape than you’re currently in.

Also, break long-term goals into shorter ‘check-ups’. Just as you visit your pain care specialist regularly and give an accounting of what is working and what is not, you need to meet with yourself and look through your daily and weekly recordings (which means you should be tracking your efforts on a daily or weekly basis) to see whether you have stayed true to the goals you’ve made and what the outcome is thus far. Write down your progress, make new short-term goals, and determine when you are going to check-in with yourself again.

 

4. Celebrate your successes and own your mistakes.

There is no better feeling than having your hard efforts pay off in visible results. Celebrate that! When you see positive results do a happy dance, blab it on Facebook, reward yourself! But when the progress you hoped for isn’t there, be honest. Were you completely faithful to your weekly goals? Did something unexpected happen that derailed you? Was your goal unrealistic? It’s okay. Life happens. Mistakes happen. The great thing about set backs—those of your doing and those not of your doing—is that they make the field of learning to happen.

 

5. Find support.

When I determined to run my first marathon I did all the above things: I made a goal. I found a training plan that broke my big goal down into bite-sized portions. I tracked my progress. I celebrated when I hit new mileage peaks. And I took an honest look at my training and nutrition when, midway through training, I started feeling run-down and lethargic. I also found a group of runners to run with. These were like-minded people, crazy enough to run 26.2 miles, who encouraged me, gave me advice, helped talk me through hard times, and kept me going one more mile, even when it hurt. I was also fortunate to have a husband, family members, and friends who cheered for me along the way.

People need people. Don’t try to reach a big goal on your own. Find cheerleaders in family and friends. Reach out to support groups full of like-minded people with similar goals. Search the internet for online support groups, or to find a local group. Tell your pain care specialist about your goal and seek his or her suggestions. Ask him or her to follow up with you on your progress at your next appointment.

 

6. Stay flexible, adjust when needed, but DON’T GIVE UP!

Setting goals and keeping goals takes time, patience, and a willingness to fail without giving in to failure. Without a doubt you are going to have bad days. But think of this: you wouldn’t know what a bad day was if you didn’t have good days, too. Focus on the good days. Focus on the good moments. And don’t be surprised when you find yourself more satisfied with life, no matter the exact outcome of your original goals.

  • Team BRPM

 

Written by Shari Dragovich
Copyright 2015 by Shari Dragovich