This post is a continuation of my advice for Nonstick Nancy, who wrote to me with the following common issue:
My greatest obstacle to reaching my wellness goals is maintaining those goals as a priority. Other projects and obligations push my wellness goals further down the list and soon I’ve lost focus.
I have been working my way through this four-part series in an attempt to help Nancy push past her maintenance issues so that her wellness goals become regular habits.
I believe it’s likely that Nancy’s (and your) goals take a back seat because of at least one of the following factors:
1. Her goals aren’t appropriate.
2. Her frame of mind isn’t serving her.
3. Her goals are negotiable.
4. She hasn’t sharpened her “roll with it” skillz.
I’ll address #3 from the list above in this post.
Your goals are negotiable.
What’s a non-negotiable? In general, it is a behavior (repeated, or a one-time act) that is not up for discussion. This means you don’t let other things take priority over it, and it is rare when you skip or overlook it. Perhaps this is a value you hold in regards to others. For instance, it may be non-negotiable if your partner cheats on you. Perhaps it is a personal core value. For example, stealing something from a store may be a non-negotiable for you.
You need health non-negotiables too. I bet you have at least one right now. Brushing your teeth daily is probably not negotiable. Why do you brush your teeth? Because it makes you feel good in the moment. Because you want to make a good impression on others, which entails having clean teeth and fresh breath. Because you know you’re setting yourself up for better long-term mouth health.
Even if you are running late, extra sleepy, having a bad day today, had a bad day yesterday, ate too much, didn’t eat enough, didn’t have the right clothes, felt the need to stay in the office late, felt the need to arrive at the office early, wanted to watch American Idol, and on and on, you are not apt to skip brushing your teeth.
Gearing up to brush your teeth may be mildly annoying, depending on what type of mood you’re in or what else is going on in your life, but somehow the benefits you have assigned to teeth brushing win out 99.9% of the time.
In order to create other health non-negotiables, you need to take the teeth-brushing mentality. This means changing your mentality around things like healthy eating and exercise – they are not luxuries. These are things that are important now and later, but we tend to view them as things that get done after other obligations.
As long as you continue to view your health habits as negotiable,
there will always be something more pressing.
I can already hear the resistance –
“I have a big deadline”
“My husband is out of town”
“My kids don’t sleep at night”
“I’m really stressed with this big project”
“I don’t want my boss to think I’m slacking”
Shifting your mindset around health non-negotiables may not come overnight, but you can start in small ways. You need to start in small ways.
Set a non-negotiable for the next week. Pay attention as your mind starts throwing up excuses for why you “can’t” do it …
“You’re always so tired after work”
“You’re always so tired in the mornings”
“You’ll be letting down your coworkers if you take a walk instead of eating lunch with the group”
“You’re a bad parent if you take time to workout after the kids are home from school”
“You’re supposed to be setting an example of productivity for your colleagues”
These thoughts are not facts. It’s your choice to have these thoughts.
So choose some others.
If you consistently put your health behind others’ needs and wants - or my favorite and the more common, behind what you think are others’ needs and wants - then you will consistently come up short on your personal progress.
You deserve to take care of you.
We all make choices. You have choices. In order to see a change, you have to change the choices that you make. Make a different choice than you have made in the past. Start right now.
It’s always a choice, even if it doesn’t feel like one.