Choose Health and Happiness: Decide to Be Positive, Resilient, and Receptive
I bet everyone remembers their first speeding ticket—and how it wrecked the day. Mine occurred when I was 16 and very nervous on my way to a figure-skating test.
I was attempting a test I had already failed once, which wasn’t uncommon but still injurious to my pride. I had left enough time to get there, but was distracted.
What would happen if I failed again? I would be embarrassed to compete at the same level again, while others moved forward. Had Dad wasted more money on my private lessons?
My catastrophic thoughts were interrupted by flashing lights behind me. I thought he just needed to get by, and I pulled to the side to let him pass. But he didn’t pass. He tucked in behind me on the side of the highway.
I drove away from the experience with a ticket in my shaking hands, foreshadowing the awkward conversation with my dad about how I was going to pay the fine.
And I failed the skating test.
Why? Because I decided to. I allowed a defeatist attitude to permeate into my mind. I expected to fail, so I did. Why not blame my unnerving experience of getting a speeding ticket as the reason I failed, instead of the real reason which was that I didn’t believe I could pass?
Many of us made optimistic resolutions as we entered the new year, and sadly, many of us have already abandoned them. But why would we give up so soon? Why would we decide that we have already been defeated, when in reality, we simply suffered a setback?
Here are some shifts—and they don’t need to be seismic—that can help you find your footing to achieving your goals, whether they be health, career, relationship, or learning.
Choose to Be Positive
There is power in positive thinking—this is not the same as wishful thinking: It involves choosing to reject thoughts that are not conducive to achieving your goal. As a nutrition coach, I have heard people say things like, “I am going to try and lose fat, but nothing ever works.” It doesn’t take degrees in nutritional science to know that this client is not going to lose 25 pounds!
Choose to Rewrite Your Interior Monologue
As an excuse to fail my skating test, I blamed the speeding ticket. I should have changed that dialogue to: “I will not let the experience of getting a ticket impede my ability to focus and pass this skating test.” Listen carefully to the words you tell yourself, and use some mind-muscle to change them. “If I put a plan in place, execute it consistently, there is no reason why I can’t improve my health.” Another great technique is to put the word “yet” after all your negative self-talk. “I have not lost 10 pounds… yet.” “I have not mastered regular exercise… yet.” The subtext to follow is: “…but I will.”
Choose to Make an Action Plan
Write a specific goal. Make it specific and actionable rather than vague. Don’t write: “I want to be healthy.” Write: “I plan to walk 5 km every Saturday morning.”
Once you have successfully achieved this goal, you can scaffold to a more advanced goal. “I will schedule three 5 km walks per week in my calendar. This will be a commitment, and I will not reschedule it.”
Choose to See Failure as Data
Doing this will lead to strategies that will work. If you can’t seem to eat enough vegetables in a day, can you buy a greens supplement to start increasing your intake? If you can’t seem to spare an hour for exercise, can you do four 15-minute stints while at work? Failure just means the strategy you have selected is not the best one for you. Identify the obstacles and find workarounds.
Choose to Say to Yourself: “I Can Do Hard Things”
Write down the mantra until it’s a habit to think and believe it. Post it on your mirror, your front door, your back door, your steering wheel, your desk at work, and your workout bag. Sometimes, it helps to think of all the hard things you have accomplished in your life to remind you that you can, indeed, do hard things. You have survived and thrived so far.
Don’t know where to start? Start by ensuring your body has the movement and nourishment it needs. Resolve to get lots of protein and veggies. If that is not possible due to a rushed lifestyle, perhaps supplements can provide support. Increase your opportunities to be active every day, whether it’s formal or informal exercise. When you support your body, all systems are stronger and more resilient. You will then be equipped to master your goals, be they in the arena of your career, family, passions, or experience.
I have learned that mindset can be the determining factor to success. Celebrate small wins, and they will tally up to the big wins when peppered with patience, wisdom, and self-compassion.
Kelly Judge, BA, BEd, MEd, PN1
Kelly is an online nutrition coach and health blogger who believes mindful eating, combined with exercise and positive mindset, contribute to deep health.