“Every Choice Matters” Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2020 issue.
Every choice matters when it comes to your health and happiness. While we know what we “should do” to achieve increased health and happiness, we often fall short of actually doing it! I’ve had the privilege of working with clients for the past nine-and-a-half years, and the biggest challenge I see them face is consistently making choices that help close the gap between where they are today and where they want to be in the future. Consistency is the big word here. As a result, I’ve identified five key strategies you can use to consistently make high quality choices in every area of life, close the gap and achieve your goal.
1. BE SPECIFIC
Goals are often set in too broad a fashion; they must be accompanied by micro-steps and timeframes. This allows us to stay on track, build on success and achieve our goals. If your end goal is to lose 10 pounds, the micro-steps would look something like this:
- Week 1: incorporate 2 cups leafy greens daily.
- Week 2: leafy greens + 20 min walk daily.
- Week 3: leafy greens + walk + 80 oz water daily
- Week 4: leafy greens + walk + water + processed sugar intake < 15 g/day.
- Week 5: leafy greens + walk + water + 15g/sugar + 2 cups vegetables daily.
- Week 6: leafy greens + walk + water + 15g/sugar + veggies + seven hours sleep.
One new habit builds on the next over a duration of time, which in the end reinforces new behavior and provides the opportunity for life transformation.
2. CROWD OUT
In the example above, the micro steps we’ve outlined provide you the opportunity to insert nourishment into daily life. Week after week, the nourishment grows, and soon enough these new choices will naturally crowd out the not-so-nourishing choices you may be making, in turn, closing the gap and helping you reach your end goal. Health doesn’t have to be about restriction and deprivation. Crowding out creates a positive, long-lasting experience.
3. ONE SIMPLE QUESTION
We often make choices that are easy, quick, convenient and habitual, but this doesn’t mean they’re the choices that will get us to where we want to go. You can ask yourself this one quick question when making any decision in life, “What will this provide me?” This question is so simple, yet profound, and here’s why: it’ll make you pause long enough to consider the benefit or consequence of the potential choice. In the end, it puts you into a space of conscious choice instead of subconscious choice (which is what we do most often). In time, behavior will shift, high-quality choices build on each other and soon this pattern becomes a normal lifestyle for you. You’re bound to make a not-so-nourishing choice here and there, we all do! When this happens please take a deep breath, pause, assess how the choice impacted you and learn from the situation. Every new choice is a new starting point. Above all else, be kind and true to yourself and offer a lot of grace along the way.
4. CREATE A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT
The most challenging part of creating a healthy lifestyle is taking action. The more you quiet the noise that distracts you from taking action, the greater the success and fulfillment you’ll experience. Create healthy boundaries around work hours; build time into the weekend to pack healthy lunches; ask co-workers to join you for bursts of exercise … whatever will serve you best! Once you create your supportive environment, communicate your needs and follow up with action. Assess how this plan is working for you after two to three months and adjust where needed. Please note, you should not shift everything with your environment overnight. Make one to two shifts to start with and over time, incorporate one after the next.
Before setting your eyes on the next prize, celebrate! Choices, outcomes, big and small, they all matter and they all add up to healthy success. Grab a small journal and keep it by your bedside. Every night before slumber, jot down a few things you’re celebrating that day. In times of challenge, or when you need a little boost in your journey, come back to the journal and flip through your log. It’ll provide just the spark you need to keep moving forward in a consistent, high-quality fashion. Every choice we make matters; it’s what closes the gap between where we are today and where we want to be. Now, it’s time to TAKE ACTION!
Photo by Brooke Lark.