In business, owners create business plans and marketing plans for the New Year to help set their course for success. This becomes their template to make their dreams and business goals come true. They can then track their progress and make adjustments when necessary to keep themselves on track.
But, why not do the same thing if your goal is improved health? Just imagine setting up a real action plan to address what you want to achieve and how you will go about making those goals happen. Let’s look at some of the parts of a business plan and see how they can be adjusted into a ‘health plan’.
According to Stephen Covey, all individuals should have a personal mission statement. Do you have one? Ok, so you probably don’t. But what about creating a personal health mission statement? What would you want that statement to say? It should include what your health would ideally look like and why you would want it to look that way. You may want to include what your primary goal is for creating a health statement, too.
An example may be, “I am committed to becoming a healthy example for my family so that they learn healthy habits and never have to suffer from disease caused by lifestyle. I will do this by avoiding unfavorable health habits and eat a healthy, whole diet most of the time and stay active on a regular basis.” So, here are the questions to ask yourself in order to create your health mission statement: 1. What do you want your health to look like? 2. Why do you want this health result? 3. How will you accomplish this goal?
What do you want your health to look like in 10 years? What will you feel and look like? How will you know if you have succeeded in your goal?
Answer each of these questions to create your ultimate vision for your health. Perhaps you have been struggling with great amounts of weight for years. You have tried every diet known to man, with limited success and then ultimate failure. So, your 10 year vision may be to weigh your ideal body weight, feel great, look fantastic and be off all medications.
Do not allow doubts or limiting beliefs voice their opinion. If you allow yourself to believe this can happen, you can make it happen.
Now it’s time to break down that big vision; what will you have accomplished in one year, three years and five years?
You have an ultimate 10-year vision, above. That is your ultimate destination. Now is the time to create the rough plan for how you will get there. Again, never mind what the limiting thoughts say. What would you like to accomplish in these milestone time frames? Examples may be that in one year you will be walking every day, five to six days a week, for a total of at least 60 minutes. Or maybe in a year you will be ready for a 5 K walk/run race. Another example may be that in 1 year you will have lost 10 pounds or are off your diabetic medication. Then for three years and five years, allow yourself to open up and dream.
Strategies and Tactics
What will your biggest challenges be? Determine these first, then brainstorm how you can overcome these challenges. Then list what it will take from you to make overcoming these challenges a reality. What techniques will you use? List seven – these are your strategies and the tactics you’ll use while using these strategies.
Examples of challenges may be; not enough time in your day, too tired, can’t find anything you like to do, hate vegetables or cooking from scratch. But, as you consider your challenges, there are always strategies you can use to determine how to overcome these challenges. A few examples are to find pre-packaged foods that are low in fat and sodium but healthy and tasty and add a salad or vegetable to it, join a health club such as Curves, where you can run in and run out and fit in a workout in just 30 minutes. Find a buddy to walk with at lunchtime. Buy a stationary bike and put it in front of the TV. Set up a vegetable challenge at work, where everyone can keep track of how many veggies they eat each day, with a prize at the end of the month for the person who is eating the most. What else can you think of?
Next you have to address what tactics you will use to make these strategies actually a reality. Come up with at least five for each strategy, because there will always be times that the situation will call for a different tactic to overcome the challenge. A few examples are to tell your friends and family that you are now walking every day after work, set up a back-up plan when you can’t walk, or each time you go food shopping you buy a new fresh, frozen or canned vegetable to try, not limiting yourself to just one form of the food. Or buy a new cookbook and commit to yourself to prepare one new, healthy meal per week, or spend some time on websites such as http://allrecipes.com/ to research something new and healthy for the family. Again, I’m sure you can come up with some tactics that sound good to you.
Values and Beliefs
Although your health may not be what you would like, this does not mean you do not value health. You may value other things more, though, or feel other things in life have taken priority over health, and, before you know it, your health has suffered as a result. What is meant by health values? To clarify, what value do you put on health; yours or the health of others? If you are reading this article, you probably do value health as something to attain or maintain. If you are concerned with maintaining your health, chances are it has held a high priority for you through your life. Everyone has a different value of health; for some, it may be the absence of disease, for others it may reflect an inner calm and serenity. Some people may consider health as physical or mental capacity or the weight they are at. The belief may come from what you believe a particular health condition (good or bad) represents. For instance, some people may consider an ideal body weight as health and something that represents inner strength or the lack of health a weakness. For others, a sign of good health is a healthy attitude towards life and others and themselves. None of these values or beliefs are right or wrong; they are just how you feel and what you believe.
List at least five personal values you have around your health and life and the beliefs that go along with each value. Spend some time on this, because many times people who are struggling with health issues don’t want to address the true beliefs or values around their health, which can be the biggest reason they are unable to overcome conditions that limit achievement of a particular health goal, such as losing weight.
Then answer these questions to see what areas need attention: How do these values relate to your health? How are these values reflected in the way you live currently? Are your values and beliefs in sync with your lifestyle? Spend some time with these questions and write down what you come up with.
Branding and Imaging
When friends and family think of you, how would you like them to describe you and your health? When you consider what you would like others to say about you when talking about health, are you currently living up to that vision you have? If not, what needs to change to become that person? How will you feel when you are that person you imagine them talking about? How will you feel if you do not become that person? List five things you would like people to say about you and your health and lifestyle.
Now it’s time to create a real plan to make all of this happen – your action plan. For those of you in business reading this, you already knew what was coming. Do you see the parallels? Look at your goals, and then ask yourself how you will plan to accomplish those goals. Use your strategies and tactics as the templates for your action plan. I have business clients create a calendar from their strategies and tactics, setting up a specific plan from month to month. You can do the same thing for health goals. Set small goals on your calendar; maybe a goal of walking five minutes every day, or avoid that morning doughnut at least three days a week. You may have a goal that by the end of the first month you are eating four servings of fruits and vegetables a day; you can start by setting a goal of two servings per day the first week, three servings per day the second and third week, and then four servings by the 4th week. Look at where you would like to be in a year, but then break that year into more manageable chunks by looking at just one month at a time and what you would like to have accomplished by the end of that month. The purpose of an action plan is to make what you need to do more real; to put legs on the ideas and intentions you came up with earlier in the process. In other words, how can you change from just thinking about what you want, in the abstract, and make it something that really happens?
Budget and financing
All business plans must have a budget plan. What is necessary to fund your new health plan? Can you do this on a small budget or will it take a big financial commitment? How will you cover the expenses your health plan will require? For some people, bypassing certain expenditures, such as eliminating the morning muffin at work can pay for the extra fruits and vegetables at the market. Or avoiding an afternoon snack can add up to enough to buy a new pair of walking shoes. Everyone can decide where they want to prioritize how they will make health a priority and how to make it fit not only their lifestyle, but also their budget.
Many people envision a healthier day, someday. For those who create a plan, and then develop strategies to stick to their plan, tend to see success. As an example, read from participants in the National Weight Control Registry, a group of over 5,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and have successfully kept that weight off for at least one year, http://www.nwcr.ws/stories.htm. Reading some of these examples proves that even if you have over 100 pounds to lose, it is possible; you have to have the desire, the awareness that it will take dedication and determination, and that you have to create the strategies and plan to make it happen. Just as with business, failure to plan results in planning for failure. Make that plan and enjoy success this year!