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  • by Jaclyn Foster, HC

Choose Smaller Goals to Accomplish More

“Most people overestimate what they're going to do in a year, and they underestimate what they can do in a decade or two or three or four.” These words from author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach Tony Robbins are a great reflection for the new year.

Can you relate to thinking you should have done more in the past year? Or that you have similar goals set for the new year that you’ve attempted and didn't achieve in previous years? These questions aren’t meant for you to judge yourself but to reflect on whether the way you’ve been approaching your yearly goals is helping you succeed.

As we start 2019 and decide where to put our attention, it’s easy to get into a zone of wanting to make big changes and many of them all at once. Maybe you want to lose weight and get in excellent shape or maybe you want to find a new job or advance your career. It’s easy to think big and feel the urgency to make it happen.

But, what can often happen when we think too big? Paralysis, we end up doing little to nothing. Have you ever had that experience?

When we think too big, we can end up feeling overwhelmed and it becomes hard to know where to start. There is only a limited amount of time and energy we have in a day and trying to do too many things at once will set us up for failure. It’s normal to want to do a lot, but when we pressure ourselves to focus on thinking big all the time, it makes it hard to give attention to all the little steps it will take to get there. And without those incremental steps, big changes rarely happen.

One way we can set ourselves on a more successful path, even though it might sound counterproductive is to take the “less is more” approach. Choose one goal or area of focus at a time and break that goal down into small steps so they can more easily be achieved and you can start to gain momentum.

If you are skeptical and/or haven’t tried this way of approaching your goals before, I recommend giving it a trial period of a few months to see how it goes. Here are a few simple steps you can follow to try this approach.

Choose one area of focus at a time. What is the biggest and most important change you would like to make this year? If you feel like there are multiple and you don’t know where to start, set a timer for 10 – 15 minutes and do a brain dump of all the goals you’d love to accomplish this year. Once you’ve finished your brain dump, see if you have any repeating or similar themes, and choose one focus.

Remember, choosing to focus on one doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get to the others, it just means you are going to give yourself the space and time to do one at a time. In time, you can get to them all; but if overwhelmed with pressure and paralysis most likely you will get to none.

You might be tempted to choose more. If so, stop yourself and choose one.

Break your action steps down smaller than you think you should. Once you choose your focus, list all the things you could do to progress towards that goal in 2019. Also think about all the things that have or could stop you from progressing and build these factors into your planning.

Something as seemingly simply as going to the gym requires a commitment to choosing a gym, figuring out what days and times you can go, figuring out a plan for childcare if needed, maybe even getting your clothes ready the day before and putting them in your car. Maybe you need to bring snacks so that you have something to hold you over before your workout. The more you can prepare with incremental steps, the likelier you are to succeed.

Put it on the calendar. When you have chosen your action steps, put them in the calendar like you would any other appointment. This will help you know specifically what you are committing to and will help reduce distractions because you will know what needs to be done. Write down exactly what you’d be doing as well.

Here are a few examples, visit the gym you pass on the way home every day, look up the exercise classes they offer and the times that would coordinate with your schedule, or visit the grocery store to pick up healthy snacks that you could have on hand to hold you over until you get your workout in.

Take the action you committed to. When you put something on the schedule, stick to it. Do the thing you wrote down, this will help build trust with yourself regarding your ability to follow through. The trust we have with ourselves is just as, if not more important, than the trust we develop with others.

If for some reason you don’t follow through on the action you decided to take, ask yourself: Am I not taking action because this step feels overwhelming? If yes, what would need to change for this to be less overwhelming?

If it’s not overwhelming, another question you can ask is, is this important enough for me to pursue? If not, consider letting it go and choose another goal to focus on and follow through on the steps above.

Get support. Finally, we all need support at different times in different ways and sometimes when we can’t gain momentum on our own, its time to ask for help.

If you are a team member or family member enrolled in the Whole Health Plan in 2019, I’m happy to share that we have some excellent support available for you. One of the services available to you at our Whole Foods Market Medical & Wellness Centers is Lifestyle Coaching.

Here are some of the ways our lifestyle coaches can help you:

  • Clarifying your priorities - If you want to be happier and healthier than you are now, we can help you figure out where to start.

  • Supporting in your creating momentum – Our lifestyle coaches are here to support you wherever you are in the process of making changes. If you have a “bad” week, we want to see you! We are here to help when you hit roadblocks.

  • Creating new habits – We are here to look together at your day-to-day life to find incremental and sustainable changes that can be incorporated into your current lifestyle.

  • Empowering you through education - We are here to offer resources on topics that you want to know more about offering evidence-based information and resources that are backed by a reputation of proven results.

If you are a Whole Health Plan member and you haven’t reached out to the Whole Foods Market Medical & Wellness Center yet, give us a call, become an established patient and take advantage of these services.

Our Glendale, CA contact number is: 818-844-2300

Our Austin, TX contact number is: 512-542-0500

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