I’ve talked about the importance of accountability when it comes to changing your lifestyle for the better. If you’ve set some health and wellness goals for yourself (and make sure they’re specific!), it can be really good to have someone like a coach or mentor to help keep you on track.
The next thing that I think is super important after setting a specific goal is planning. We plan for so many things in our everyday lives, and sometimes we don’t even think so much about it. We’re going through the process, living a whole range of habits and rituals, and we keep ticking things over and over and again.
There’s a lot of planning that we already do. In business we plan our workflow, we plan our resourcing, our staff, we plan to complete our projects at different stages and all the things that’s required for them, we plan our marketing, networking, cash flow, and more.
We plan our family lives too: what’s for dinner, the barbecue with the neighbors on the weekend, after school activities, weekend activities, family holidays, and the list goes on. (I’ve heard that sometimes people spend more time planning an annual holiday than they do for their retirement, which is another story entirely.)
Recently my family and I took the camper trailer to a little place up the coast for a couple of nights and had an absolute ball. Camping is such an awesome thing to do. I love camping. It’s a simple easy holiday, gets everyone outside, and I think it’s a really great way to enjoy different parts of the outdoors, see the country, and just disconnect.
Just last weekend we took our camper trailer up to Scotts Head, a little town up on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. It’s a little coastal town and it was absolutely sensational. The little town has a small supermarket and coffee shop, restaurants, and so it ticked all the boxes for my family. The caravan park where we stayed is tucked in on the back of the beach behind the sand dunes. It’s easy to walk along the beach, and we took the body boards up for the kids. I took a board, we surfed, we went for walks and we just hung out and talked to people, cooked in the camp kitchen and just unwound. It was brilliant.
I really recommend it. If you’re a camper, great and even if you’re not, this particular place had some on-site cabins, so check it out if you’re thinking about a really good easy outdoor holiday beautiful spot.
So let’s bring it back to the idea of planning. With camping there’s a swagger things you need to get ready for: obviously all your gear to start. We’ve got a little camper trailer and most of our gear is packed away, but you’ve got to get all your cooking gear ready, get your food ready, get your refrigeration stuff ready, your clothes, a bit of outdoor furniture and things like that. Tarps, poles, tent pegs, bedding… it’s not too complicated but it does take some planning to make sure you have everything you need for the style of camping you’re heading into.
If we’re going to go for a ride, a mountain bike ride on the weekend, we plan a swagger stuff. We plan the location, who’s going to go, what’s the meeting time. We might give our bikes a bit of a once-over, check the tire pressure, lube the chain, check breaks, pressure, forks and shocks, fill the Camelback, grab a few snacks and then head out the door.
So it’s heap planning day. If you go for a surf there’s a swagger things to plan as well. You check the wind direction, the tide, the size of the swell. You might think about which board you’re going to take, a short or a long board, and all those things, and then choose which break you’re going to to suit those conditions all in a day.
We plan to do swagger stuff, but it’s not often that we plan to live a healthy lifestyle. Many of us just roll along doing what we were doing, living the way we’re living. It’s understandable: we’re busy with work and family and friends. There’s not much time left to focus on ourselves.
Sometimes we may recognize that we need to make some changes, but we think it’s too hard, we might get to it later on when it’s not as busy. You might have had thoughts along these lines: “The changes that are happening to me now are maybe because of an unhealthy lifestyle, but maybe I’m just getting old. Things are affecting me differently, but that’s just life, and I’ll just put up with it. Changing would be too hard and it might not even make a difference.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be hard. Yes, it’s a change, and change takes effort. But you can set yourself up to succeed with a new lifestyle. You can achieve a healthy life for years and years to come, even if you’ve strayed a bit along the way.
Getting healthier doesn’t just happen. It takes planning and then you have to put the effort in. We do all this when we plan a family holiday or are undertaking a new business venture. So it’s only fair that we the same level of attention to the thing that allows us to do everything else—our health.
It can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. I find that making small changes is the best way to go. I work with a program that runs over a couple of months, and we make a number of small changes each week or month for the following month. The small changes build until they become something bigger.
Some approaches are a big slam down, change your world, turn everything upside down. These can be exciting, and if you’re really committed, really dedicated, you may be able to make that all happen for the first week, for the first two weeks, and even the first month. But being able to accommodate those changes and keep that going for the rest of your life—that’s what matters.
So I recommend sticking with small, sustainable changes and just keep building on that every single day.
It’s all about the planning. Consider what foods you should be eating, and then make a plan to shop accordingly. Go shopping regularly for things that fit your new lifestyle so that you and your family have good food available for you whenever you need to eat.
When you cook, cook a little bit extra so you’ve got some leftovers for the following day. That will help keep you from being tempted to duck into the fast food place or the cafe and get something that might not be quite aligned with what you’re trying to achieve. You may indulge every now and then, and that’s okay, but when that becomes the norm it overrides all your good efforts and you start to deviate from your goals. Having a plan for making sure you’re eating well will make it easier to avoid those temptations.
For your fitness it’s important to plan as well. Have an idea about what you want to achieve for your week. It might be a little workout in the backyard, it might be a trip to the gym, it might be a walk with your partner, it might be an easy ride on the bike. Whatever your goals, you can find a way to make some degree of progress toward them with a plan.
If you’re not feeling up to it, just park it for a day and rest up, make sure you’re feeling well. Try to be a little bit more intuitive with how you feel, how your body is doing, and work towards your goal based on that. It’s much better in the long term to take it easy when you need to rather than follow some strict program where someone’s driving and pushing and saying you need to do this, you need to do that. It goes against the grain of what you’re trying to achieve: a fit, happy, healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Another place where planning is important is for going out the following day. I’m a morning person, so as often as I can I’ll get my gear out the night before so it’s all ready, get up early, and get out there. If you are an early riser like me, this way you don’t have to rattle around trying to find all your bits and pieces in the morning.
Like many people, I’m usually a bit short on time in the morning, so when I’ve got my gear out and I’m ready to go, I’m using my time as efficiently as I can to do my bit of exercise, whatever that might be for the day.
Sleep can benefit from planning as well. We need to be aware and conscious of our sleep. It’s something we often sacrifice, thinking we’ll be able to catch up later, but it’s very important that we make sure to get plenty of sleep.
Rest is vital for our bodies in so many ways. Turn off those devices a couple of hours before bed and let yourself wind down. Read a book or engage in another relaxing screen-free hobby and just start to switch off for the day. Have a good sleep and let your body recharge, recover and prepare itself for your next day.
Finally, you can and should also plan for play. Play is part of a healthy life. Not everything has to be high-intensity. Play with the dog, run around with the kids, take a casual stroll with your partner and enjoy the sights. Whatever brings some fun into your life is worth planning.
All this stuff doesn’t just happen on its on. It all takes planning. Unless you make it happen by focusing on your goals and making time to take the small steps that will get you there, you’ll stay where you are.
So keep working through these things, and after some time it just becomes habit. It becomes your new life, your new way to live, your new way to think. It becomes part of all the other planning that you do every day in other aspects of your life.
Planning will also help you measure your progress. It’s important to measure where you’re at, when you start and where are you going along the way to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Sometimes we just head off blindly and we think we’re doing a few things right, but it’s always good to check and measure as you go. That lets you make some fine-tuning adjustments and keep it all moving forward.
We need to work through a whole range of things to keep it all moving, but our why, the big emotional reason why we’re doing what we’re doing, is that we’re making a change to feel better or to hit some emotional goal. This is so important to remember. Focus on your goal and measure your progress toward it regularly.
The benefits that I’ve felt, that my clients feel, from losing a bit of weight, from getting a bit fitter are so worth it at the end of the day that it makes it easier to put in the effort again the next day.
A number of my clients that I’ve coached this week have come back to me and said that working through a program went well over Christmas. Here’s what happens: we try a bit of different food and a few drinks here and there, and the next day it all comes back to us. Then we start to realize how we feel when we eat foods that our bodies aren’t really accustomed to, the preferred foods for a happy, healthy lifestyle. If you’re not feeling well after indulging, it’s a bit of a wake-up call to get back on track and stick with a program.
Ultimately, it’s important to be patient. Sometimes it’s hard to wait for results. Give things time to evolve. Something like this, your health and wellness, takes time to change. As a coach, I focus on building long-term sustainable habits, not getting rapid results that you can’t hold onto.
It’s not a magic bullet, it’s not a quick fix. Some people that have approached me saying they want that quick change, and I’m sorry I can’t give them that. Wellness is a lifestyle. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time.