I personally like to set a new wellness challenge for myself every month. It is said that it takes 21 days to develop a habit, so a monthly challenge is sufficient time to instill new healthy practices into my lifestyle and make them habit, but it is not so long that I get bored with the challenge. Monthly challenges work for me, but everyone is different and each challenge is different, so set a challenge and time-frame that works for you.
Whether my monthly goal is mental, physical, or spiritual in nature, I essentially use the same steps and tools to successfully achieve my goals.
- Set the goal. Make it very specific and measurable. For example, instead of setting a goal to “drink more water this month,” I would set a goal to “drink 8 (8oz) glasses of water each day.” That is a very specific and measurable goal.
- Write it down. Put it somewhere visible so you are reminded of it often. For example, this month I am participating in the February Acts of Kindness challenge with my family. We have hung up our Daily Logs on the refrigerator to track our progress. Every time we go to or open the refrigerator, we are reminded of the challenge.
- Break it down into smaller, very specific and manageable steps. If the goal you have set is a larger goal that may seem overwhelming or unreachable at the beginning, break it down into smaller, very specific, manageable steps. For example, my goal for March is going to be to de-clutter my house. That is an enormous task! Therefore, I will break it down day by day and come up with a manageable step for each day of the month. When I look at my to-do list and see “organize the utensil drawer”, I am more apt to go do it than if I see “clean the house.” Clean the house is a big task and it is not very specific, so I may not be as motivated to get up and start cleaning if I don’t know what it is I should be cleaning.
- Schedule it. Once you have broken your goal down into specific tasks, add them to your monthly calendar (in ink), put the task(s) of the day on your daily to-do list, and set aside a specific time each day to work on them. I am a list-maker, so I find it very satisfying when I am able to cross items off my to-do list. If you have allotted a specific time to work on your goal, you are much more likely to reach it than if you have to find “spare” time in a day.
- Allow yourself a day off each week. Whatever your challenge, allow yourself a day off each week. If you don’t allow yourself a little time off, you may get burned out and discouraged with the challenge. If you took my January “Love Yourself More” Wellness Challenge, you may have noticed that I gave the participants Saturdays off and encouraged them to reserve Saturdays as a day of rest, quality time with family, and practicing presence. If I could offer everyone just one piece of advice about life, it would be to slow down and observe this day of rest every week (it doesn’t have to be Saturday – pick the day that works best for you.) That one simple practice has changed my life and helped to improve my relationships with myself, with God, and with others. I know it could do the same for others.
- Set a reward for yourself. This step is often overlooked, but I feel this is a crucial step in any challenge you set for yourself. Oftentimes, completing the challenge is a reward in itself, but you also need to come up with a simple pleasure to reward yourself with upon completing the challenge. For example, if losing a specific amount of weight is your goal, you might reward yourself with a new outfit upon completing the goal. This will give you something to look forward to, and it will help you to stay motivated to successfully complete your challenge.
- Get Accountable. Accountability plays a big role in the success of any challenge. If you are not being held accountable, then it makes it that much more difficult to stay motivated and continue with the challenge. The best way I have found to stay accountable is to find a buddy to do the challenge with me. In that way, we can support each other along the way. Personally, I feel I am more successful when I am accountable to someone else rather than just being accountable to myself. For example, I walk with a friend every weekday morning. If I don’t feel like walking one day, it is very easy to skip the walk if I’m going alone, but it’s not so easy if my friend is counting on me to walk with her. If you can’t find a buddy to take the challenge with you, find someone to hold you accountable and ask you about your progress frequently. Other ways to help with accountability might be to join support groups related to the challenge, to blog about your experience (as I did with the October Unprocessed challenge), or even to keep a journal for yourself.
- Get Support. The best way I have found to stay motivated and to get support is to find someone to take the challenge with me. Social media has made that very easy to do. With some of my previous challenges, I have found that Facebook support groups have been an essential part of my success in completing the challenge. Connecting with like-minded people who have the same goal in mind is a very good way to help you stay on track, stay motivated, and get through obstacles together. When I participated in the October Unprocessed challenge (eating only REAL foods for an entire month), the Facebook support group set up for the challenge played an integral role in my success. I found it very inspirational when members of the group shared their REAL food recipes, and I learned a lot by reading about the successes and challenges others encountered.
- Track your progress in some way. Whether you keep track of your progress in a daily journal, through a daily log on the refrigerator, through blogging, or through technology such as wearables and apps, it is important to keep track of your progress to help you stay motivated and focused. There are so many options nowadays to help you with this, and I will discuss them in my next blog post. Look for it this week! 🙂
- Don’t get discouraged. You will most likely encounter some obstacles throughout the challenge, and some days it may feel like you are taking 2 steps back for every one step forward. Don’t give up, and don’t get discouraged if you slip up. Nobody is perfect, and perfection is not the goal anyway. You are allowed (and expected to) make mistakes and have a bad day once in a while. Learn what works best for you through trial and error, and if you slip up, begin each day anew.
- Reward Yourself. Please do not overlook this step. Once you have reached your goal, treat yourself to the reward you set in step #6. If you do not reward yourself at the end, it will likely affect the outcome of future goals as well. Stay true to yourself and make it a priority to stick to the rewards you promise yourself.
If you strive to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit, setting wellness goals are an essential step. Striving for a life of balance in all areas is the key to achieving optimum health.