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SMART Steps to Creating A Successful Health Plan

Posted Dec 04 2012 3:30pm

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All change springs forth from an idea, a goal, a wish…but without planning these changes often fall by the way-side, never quite take off or dwindle away after a promising start.

Why? Planning, or rather a lack of. I know it may sound boring, contrived and time-consuming but it needn’t be.

Here’s how to turn that healthy ambition of yours into a reality with the help of a simple yet very successful SMART health plan. Here are the 5 steps you need to get you there:

Specific. Get crystal clear on your goals. Your why is of vital importance here as that’s what will keep you on track and motivated. And be honest with yourself. Do you want to lose 3 kilos even though you feel great in your skin because you think you should according to crazy media norms, or do you really feel that losing those 3 kilos will make you feel healthier, happier, fitter etc. If so, how many kilos, by when etc? (this is just an example, albeit a popular one which is why I chose it).

“If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” – Steve Maraboli

Measurable.  At the end of the day, we all want results. We want to know that what we’re doing makes a difference. How will you measure your achievements? Will you be able to see it in your skin, your digestion, your moods? What exactly will this look like?

Achievable. I know, this one may seem like a no-brainer but you’ll be surprised to hear that in many cases, this is the step that brings you down. We live in a fast-paced society where we want things now. When it comes to health or lifestyle changes, remember that you’re often breaking the habits of a lifetime. It took years to get you where you are today, going way back to health and thought patterns inherited from your ancestors. Changing the way you see and do things is no mean feat. It takes consistent, persistent action. Expecting change overnight will get the most ambitious among you down. Break up your goal into mini-steps to keep you motivated along the way and keep you on track for the long term.

Realistic. Referencing the point above, are you planning on losing 15 kilos in two weeks, or 2 kilos in two weeks? Set yourself up to succeed, not to fail and berate yourself for once again not achieving your goal. If your plan is a stretch, who can you get on board to actually help you achieve it this time, once and for all? What support do you need?

Time framed. We all know what happens when we have lofty ideas without a specific plan. I want to achieve X. Things get in the way, we’ll get back on track again tomorrow, after this busy period, in the New Year…Without a clearly defined schedule it’s difficult to stick to our intentions and turn them into a success. By when exactly do you want to have achieved X (in a measurable, realistic way)?

So, what to do now?

Using your computer and online calendar or good old fashioned pen, paper and diary (I like to use a combination of both) map out the above 5 steps as your ‘big picture’.

Then schedule them into your diary. Don’t keep your 3 times a week yoga classes in your head, actually put them into your calendar as an appointment, that way you’re much less likely to find excuses to cancel. Although I’m an organised person, I used to keep most of my plans in my head, managing to keep to them most of the time, until I realised that this was far more stressful than it’s worth. Writing things down means that that’s one less mundane thought that you have to keep bringing up in order not to forget to do it. For example, we even started to schedule in which day of the week we would do the food shopping. This seemed way to scheduled for me, I mean, just do it when the fridge is empty when you’re sure to finally get around to getting to the shop. This way of reacting takes effort – constant thought, when to fit it in around other engagements, what to eat today as we didn’t have time to do the food shopping (again)…you get the picture. Scheduling in regular tasks like cleaning and shopping allows you to see the bigger picture and create space for what you want – gym visits, going for a run, preparing healthy meals , making time for self-care – yes, even scheduling in down-time will make sure that you actually do it.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

Can I help you to plan to succeed?  You can do it!

What planning tips and tricks do you have to share with us? We’ love to hear your specific examples and success stories!

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