Small Steps – Big Changes.

Only English || The year 2018 is nearing its end and people usually start summarizing — what went well, what didn’t — and moreover, what’s going to come? It is thoroughly good to stand still for a moment and review the past year, past events, highs and lows, and since we are cycle-oriented animals, the end of a year has always been the proper time to think over, start over or change the course. That’s where the New Year’s resolution kind of people get their chance. We at Movewell® are primarily surrounded by those who aren’t really comfortable with themselves yet; who are still rehabilitating; who are on a new nutrition plan; who are still in pain; who are still suffering from emotional, physical or energy-wise deficiencies; who are chasing their next health or sports goals; who are still stuck in their comfort zone way too deep. Therefore, resolutions are being made, and health is deemed the top priority for the next year.

Resolutions mostly aim at ceasing bad habits like drinking, smoking, binge watching, being inactive all day and whatnot. Ultimately, they serve to improve health, well-being, and resurrect motivation and willpower. Theoretically, we couldn’t be any more satisfied by people emphazising on greater health. However, we see people throw in the towel all too often and way too quickly. But why is it? Well, according to our holistic analysis and anamnesis we carry out with the clients at the very beginning of our therapy or training sessions with him/her, it has become clear to us that goals aren’t really tangible, nor well thought out. Don’t get me wrong, we encourage people to think about themselves and their emotional and physical strengths and weaknesses, and set health-related and sports-related goals. But it’s got to be realistic of some sort. 

There are two types of New Year’s resolutionists (and general goal setter), those who phrase their goal starkly and drastically like “I will quit smoking — I will quit the job — I will turn my life around”, and those who phrase it rather blurry “Yes, I know, I need to be more active — eating better is the plan for the next year — whatever, its on my list…”. 

Analyzing both types is very important to understand their decision making and pattern in order to help them succeed, plus it’s fun, too. Perhaps you can relate to one or the other. At the first glance, the first type seems determined and certain about decisions and consequences, and has been dealing with the issue obviously for way too long. He/she seems more likely to succeed. The second seems to be the counter part, he/she has been told that it isn’t the right way to eat, work or life. The second one tends to be rather passive in decision making, isn’t convinced yet, or simply doesn’t take his/her goals all too seriously — it hasn’t become an active decision yet. I personally relate to the first type, who is willing to leave the comfort zone rather quickly and voluntarily. But as always, the optimal way lies somewhere in between — determined and willing to sacrifice, yet a little less stark and with stepping stones aka baby steps toward the major goal.

Either way, we have seen goals and changes evaporate just like that, and everything went back to “normal” rapidly. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions mostly last less than 90 days and many of them fail already in the first week of February. Since most resolutions as well as all kinds of goals that we are confronted with at Movewell® are primarily health-related. It is of great importance to us to solve the problem with the high number of premature cessation.  

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What needs to be done in order to succeed and achieve a health-related goal as planned?

  1. Set a goal that doesn’t deprive yourself of joy and freedom — greater restrictions increase rate of failure ➔ “I will work out every day, come what may” won’t work
  2. Stay open to outcomes that aren’t congruent to the original goal, yet show improvements ➔ “I planned to work on my mobility issue every single day, but I only do it every other day” It is still a big advance compared to the previous life
  3. A certain difficulty relates to greater success (Epton T. et al) — don’t aim too low, choose a goal that requires your full attention and makes you leave your comfort zone
  4. The goal should be visualized and written down vividly, so that everybody will get immediately what you’re aiming at ➔ losing 5kg in x weeks; reducing the amount of sitting per day by 2 hours, one hour by lunch, one hour by evening
  5. Set baby steps towards the primary goal ➔ I have to get rid of my hydration deficiency by drinking more water: 1,5l more water is the primary goal, so I start increasing the daily amount by 200ml until I reach the additional 1,5l; master running 5km before planing a marathon
  6. Make the goal very personal, be precise and don’t generalize ➔ “I will do more for my fitness” won’t work

All the six steps make the goal actually tangible and less abstract, plus number 2. assures that you won’t be disappointed if the outcome isn’t equal to the primary goal, yet displays still great improvement. The clearer you can visualize the goal and can identify with it, the more likely you’ll succeed. Due to our hormone system (especially dopamine), the baby steps will help you stay on track and stay continuously encouraged. You don’t run the marathon overnight, you have to progress the training sustainably and consistently. Most importantly, find a goal that can bring more joy into your life, otherwise it only puts additional strain on your system and causes stress.

The closer you stick to the guideline, the more likely you can focus on the journey towards the goal instead of worrying about the outcome. Ultimately, this is the true value of goals and reduce the pressure of “success” to its very minimum. People who focus on the journey are most likely to feel success and joy, and are finally able to sustain a greater quality of life.

Stay persistent and Movewell



About the Author:

Founder || Physical Therapist | Movement Coach

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