Setting Health Goals


Mrugank Patel

Australian Stnd. Psychotherapist & Coach

We hear the stories of sudden health enlightenment quite frequently. People often come to us and say, “Today is the day my life changes. From today I’ll not eat restaurant/fast food, not get stressed, exercise daily, start meditating regularly” and so on.

The problem is not with this sudden realisation that we need to make changes or that today is the day we commit to those changes. A lot of people make resolutions and fail. We fail many times but with experience and education, we can turn the odds in our favour.

The real problem that almost all of us face is not being aware of when we started getting off track and lost sense of our priorities in life. (For me personally, it is essential to know past behaviour of people, so when I start seeing the lapses in desired behaviour, I can pull my clients back on track). To understand the triggers of behaviour, we ask following questions:

1. When did it become okay for us to ignore our health?

The answer for some people to this question is some life event which changed our healthy habits (kids, marriage, job change, relocation, festival, achieving weight goal etc. are common). Most people have just gone with the flow of life and we never paid attention to the fact that we are losing health slowly. We don’t do daily maintenance if this machine is working. If we are looking to start health journey, it is important to ask this question. This will help us become vigilant of events which may get us off track.

2. What is taking us away from healthy living (in past 1-2 months)?

The answer to this one mostly is – We don’t have time for doing XYZ or we don’t know how to do XYZ. If we know the challenges or the troublemakers, it becomes easier to overcome them. If we know our enemies, it’s easier to win the battle. This includes the battle against poor health.

3. What are we going to sacrifice?

This one is tricky and most of the people don’t know what this means. The reason for this question is to understand how we are going to utilise our time. For example, if we are going to set a goal to start going to the gym for one hour everyday, we have to sacrifice some other activity like sleep, family time, business time etc. We are not miraculously going to get 25 hours in a day because we want to add 1 hour of new behaviour (exercising).

Another example would be a decision to cut back/stop drinking alcohol. That’s a great idea and our health will thank us for that but have we thought what will we do with the extra time we will get? If we don’t have any activities planned, the boredom will attract us to old behaviours.

As said earlier, in the moment of initial energy outburst we set goals which are not well thought of. Awareness is first step for change. If we are aware of our own shortcomings and temptations, we will be able to set better resolutions. We will be able to come back on track as soon as we start seeing possible traps.

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