What do you want 2016 to look like?

I was struck this morning by an article put out by Harvard Health that was aimed at helping us choose changes that would be the easiest to implement and give the biggest rewards. That’s what everyone wants don’t they?

The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of what’s going well in our lives and what could be working better and very often, the changes we want begin with habits that we have integrated into our regular routines – sometimes without apparently choosing them!  And I’m reminded how health and wellness coaching is such a wonderful area to work in as most of the changes we want relate to our lifestyle habits.  In other words, we are most unhappy about the outcomes that are the result of poor choices around nutrition, exercise and life balance.  So the Harvard Health Report highlights the following seven areas as being the best places to start:

  1. Eat healthier 
  2. Stick to exercise 
  3. Diet effectively 
  4. Nip an unhealthy habit 
  5. Harness positive psychology 
  6. Control spending 
  7. Ease stress

I was quite impressed by this list as it pretty much covers all the major areas of our wellness that can undermine the quality of our lives but I might add a qualifier to each if I were asked to do so:

  1. Eat healthier – to do this we must first work out how we are eating currently. Key points here would be – timing of meals, composition of meals as in food groups – portion sizes  and possibly whether we eat mindfully or not.
  2. Stick to exercise – this is very broad.  Perhaps “move more” would be a better aim.  Many of us spend long times sitting at a desk even though we exercise regular and perhaps intensely at certain times. I think that a variety of exercise (to prevent injury), a variety of intensities, (so we can use it to unwind at times), and more incidental activity, say every hour, is a great goal to work towards.
  3. Diet effectively  – the very word “diet” makes me cringe.  I would suggest that,  “make changes that reduce empty calorie intake” might be preferable here.
  4. Nip an unhealthy habit – we all have them.  I like the idea of choosing one thing to change and working on that.  It could have may follow on effects.
  5. Harness positive psychology – love it.  Despite what the critics say, experiencing positive emotions, changing our thinking to look for what’s working instead of what’s not working, spending time with people who nurture us and taking part in activities that engage us, are just a few of the ways to ensure our life is being lived fully.
  6. Control spending – the main message here is to have control of our lives and not feel that sudden urges for instant gratification take over and place stress on us unnecessarily.  The pleasure of working for something instead of having it and then paying for it later is worth remembering.
  7. Ease stress – to me this is the biggest problem of the modern world.  We are living in a way that exposes us to continual stress.  Slow down, be in the moment, work out what we want from life and why we want it. Then decide whether we are on track to get it or whether we are so stressed that even if we did get whatever the elusive thing is, we wouldn’t enjoy it!

Lists are great as they help us quantify and focus on a few things.  Do any of these seven points really speak to you?  Perhaps a good place to start when writing your vision for 2016.

Reference: Harvard Medical School – Healthbeat news, December 2015.