Do you ever completely blow off your commitments to your supervisor or co-workers for no good reason? Probably not very often, right?
On the other hand, how often do you make a promise to yourself, like an earlier bedtime, a new exercise routine, or finally making that MD appointment, and then blow off that commitment? I’m guessing that happens a bit more often. Maybe a lot more often?
You’re not alone. We are pretty good at taking care of business at work. Taking care of our health at home? Not so much.
What if we all harnessed the same commitment, organizational skills, and teamwork we use at work and used it to improve our own health? What if you treated your current health goal like a high-priority work project? What would you do differently?
Here are some steps you can take to do just that:
Step 1. Set a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG)
If you’re having a hard time motivating yourself to take care of your health, it may be because you aren’t inspired. Having a BHAG (a great phrase from the 1990s business bestseller, Built to Last) can inspire you to do what you know needs to be done.
EXAMPLE: Stacy had chronic back pain and had a hard time doing the daily yoga that could keep her pain-free. After she shifted her health goal from “Manage my back pain,” to the more inspiring “Become a yoga teacher!” she got involved in the yoga community, took a year-long course and developed a meaningful daily practice that keeps her back pain at bay today. She decided not to become a certified yoga teacher, but she more than met her original goal of managing her back pain.
Step 2. Create Your Project Team.
Having a team gives you the support and accountability you need to make change. Think of a few people whom you could invite to join you in getting healthier and check in with a couple professionals about your goals.
EXAMPLE: Michele’s ambitious goal was to hike a local mountain without arthritis pain in her knees and hips. She invited a work friend to walk with her twice a week and another friend to come over and prep healthy meals every Sunday. Her gym trainer, with whom she met twice per week, and her primary care provider rounded out the team that helped her get back on the trails.
Step 3. Do Research and Choose Strategies.
Look for role models who have succeeded in doing what you’re trying to do. Talk to your health providers and read articles online. Open your mind to new approaches and choose one that seems best for you for now.
EXAMPLE: Four years ago, when my bum knee got so bad that I could barely climb stairs, I saw two orthopedic surgeons, a chiropractor, a sports doctor, and three physical therapists, and read a ton online. After getting inserts for my shoes and learning a new strengthening and stretching routine in my physical therapy, my knee was well enough to run and dance again. Keep in mind – The first surgeon said I needed surgery and the first two physical therapists didn’t help at all. Those second and third opinions can be life-savers!
Step 4. Set Measurable Objectives.
Long-term, ambitious goals are inspirational. They can be also be overwhelming. Setting short-term objectives can help you stay accountable, avoid burnout and keep your momentum moving forward.
EXAMPLE: Monica wanted to lose 30 pounds, feel more energetic and fit into her old clothes. Rather than try to change eating and exercise habits all at once, her first 4-week objective was to shift her bedtime an hour earlier so that she could get up to exercise in the morning. That laid the foundation for her next 4-week goal: Establish a daily exercise routine . . . and so on until several 4-week goals later, she met her overall ambitious goal.
Step 5. Make a Project Timeline.
Successful work projects virtually always start with a timeline with clear deadlines and responsibilities. Make a project plan for yourself for your first objective and share it with someone on your project team to keep you accountable.
EXAMPLE: Kathy had Lyme disease and arthritis and wanted to switch to an anti-inflammatory diet. Her 4-week goal was to cut down to one grain per day and cut out all added sugar. Her timeline looked like this:
Week 1: Research salad recipes and replace lunch sandwich with big salad three times per week.
Week 2: Replace lunch sandwich with big salad six times per week.
Week 3: Toss or donate all food in kitchen with added sugar or corn syrup. Research and buy healthier alternatives.
Week 4: Learn two fruit-sweetened dessert recipes to replace sugary desserts on weekends.
Take some time in the next few days to go through these steps and come up with a Business Plan for Your Health. It will turbo-charge your healing work,
And – if you do, send it my way. I’d love to see what you come up with.
To your health,