Very few of us are super healthy with a great life style. Having a great life style doesn’t mean you need a lot of money, it means you feel personally rewarded in your life, and you contribute to the well-being of others. Right now most of us have unhealthy reactions to life’s stresses and strains.
The author used to have the thought, “I need a drink” at the end of a stressful day, until it became a habit to have several drinks a day, and he became an alcoholic. Your reactions to stressful days could be unhealthy such as stuffing your belly with food, or having a few drinks (or more than a few), avoiding people, becoming a video game addict, becoming a couch potato in front of the TV, spending hours on the internet, or…..any number of unhealthy ways to handle stress.
Making positive changes isn’t easy. Many of us think about doing something, but we don’t have perseverance, and we slide back to our old ways. For example, that exercise machine that you bought some time ago like an Exercycle is now nothing but a clothes rack. That’s true for a lot of people because we didn’t stick-to-it. After a while we just didn’t want to take the time and energy to stick-to-it.
Unfortunately, the only way you can move towards a healthy lifestyle is to maintain new and positive health habits. It isn’t comfortable in the early stages, but if you stick-to-a new healthy activity long enough, it can become a routine rather than a bore. And, the long term rewards will be highly rewarding.
Perseverance can be defined as the “Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; in spite of obstacles.” People who are persistent also are strong in grit.
Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals. While ability is important for many success stories, these individuals also possessed “zeal” and “persistence of motive and effort. Grit is conceptualized as a stable trait that does not require immediate positive feedback. Individuals high in Grit are able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods of time despite experiences with failure and adversity. Their passion and commitment towards the long-term objective is the overriding factor that provides the stamina required to “stay the course” amid challenges and set-backs. Essentially, the Grittier person is focused on winning the marathon, not the sprint.
How you can persevere to reach a goal
- Write down what you are attempting to accomplish, how you are going to do it, and what the result will be when you complete it. Then tape it up on the refrigerator, or any other convenient location, where you can see the goal every day. That way you can better remind yourself on a daily basis of what your goal is and what you are going to do to achieve it.
- Get support from other people. Create a personal support group. Maybe it’s family. Maybe a significant other. Maybe a roommate or a best friend, an associate at work, or even your next door neighbor. We all need emotional support. There will be days when you are too tired to do what’s good for you, or you feel too depressed or worried. Share your feelings with a trustworthy confidant who can give you an emotional boost. There is an old saying that you can get depressed alone, but you need others to find joy.
- Reward yourself for reaching a short term goal. Set a short term goal such as a month to carry out a specific behavior such as totally avoiding unhealthy drinks such as colas, sodas and alcohol. After a month of success, indulge in a pre-planned reward. Maybe it is having the drink that you have been denying yourself. If you never indulge in an unhealthy treat it could be something you keep on thinking about. Remember, you are rewarding yourself for your behavior rather than an accomplishment such as losing x pounds. It’s the long term behavior that is important and should be rewarded.
- Don’t overindulge because you “went off the wagon.” If you had a slice of pie as a reward, that is not an excuse to eat the whole pie. For many of us once we indulged, that becomes an excuse to throw out your goal. Not good. If you indulge once, that is not an excuse to give in and give up. It’s okay to have a treat periodically, and then go back to what you previously committed to doing. Giving in once does not make you a failure.
- Make the method for achieving your goal realistic. We all have setbacks when it comes to goal setting. If we didn’t, we would have been successful long ago. For example, one of the most difficult goals to carry out is weight loss. Many of us have lost some weight for a while and then gained it back, perhaps plus more. Why? Perhaps because we just couldn’t keep up what led to temporary success. For example if you lose weight by cutting back calories. That method only leads to temporary success because you just can’t keep on subsisting on a low calorie count. You’ll go back to normal eating sooner or later and that puts on weight.
- Accept setbacks. Everyone has setbacks. Let’s say your goal is weight loss and you went to a party where there were loads of delicious high-calorie snacks. Everyone else was eating them and you did too. That doesn’t mean you failed. In the beginning, plan for periodic indulgences. When you know they are going to happen, it’s easier to say “I really enjoyed a day of indulging. Now I’m ready to back on my plan.”
- Reward yourself for reaching a long term goal. What is the positive reward for succeeding? It could be feeling good about yourself, or you think you look better, or whatever else you set as a reward for achievement. A warning, if your goal is to lose weight the reward should be nothing to do with eating or drinking. Having achieved a long term goal, you won’t maintain the inner reward by doing what created the problem in the first place. How about a day at a spa. If you’re a woman, spend a day at a spa. If a man you could do the same, or take a special vacation, or go to watch a college or professional sports activity that you don’t do regularly. Or, just do what turns you on.
Take any behavior that you touched on in The Circle of Wellness, write it down, put your goal up on the refrigerator or wherever else it can be seen, and persevere with it for a whole month. Then pick a Healthy reward that you can enjoy at the end of the month.
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