Health Direction

What is Your Health Trajectory?

What is Your Health Trajectory?

Today you have made choices that will affect your health, either positively or negatively. Think of the choices (conscious or not) you have made today that are likely to improve your health as well as those that are likely to reduce it. Like a bank account, we want the positives to outweigh the negatives. If they do, we are more likely to set our health course in a positive direction. But when our choices are more heavily weighted on the unhealthy side, our trajectory turns south. Certainly, there are exceptions. Good choices don’t always guarantee perfect health. But our choices do matter and we do have influence over our health.

So, where is your health headed? Where will your health be in 5 years if you treat your body every day just like you have today? Will you likely be fit, active, and energetic? Or will your body more likely be showing the effects of chronic stress, lack of sleep, or poor nutrition?

Begin as you mean to go on. – Charles Spurgeon

How do you make positive changes to affect your future health? I’m a goal setting kind of gal. I like to make goals, write them down, and work toward them. But then life happens and I often find myself overwhelmed by all of the things I want to do. It’s easy for me to miss the small opportunities of improving my health right now. It doesn’t seem “big” enough to set a goal to drink more water, take a 10-minute walk just for fun, or play outside with my kids. I want to see half marathon training, an experimental three month eating plan, or a new project on my calendar.

But what if my perfect idea of a goal is getting in the way of the good – more sustainable – changes I could make if I shifted my mindset? What if, instead of making new “goals”, I looked for new systems?

Are Goals for Losers?

In Scott Adams’ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big , he discusses the differences between goals and systems. He claims that goals are for losers – literally. For example, let’s say you set a goal to lose 10 pounds. From the moment you decide to pursue that goal until you actually lose the 10 pounds, you are a failure because you fall short of your goal.

However, if you created a system to move toward that mark and followed your system today (walk 30 minutes every day, eat at least 5 servings of vegetables, etc.), you are successful today! You can be encouraged about your progress from the beginning.

I am not necessarily on board with his statement that goals are for losers. But I do see how implementing systems can create a more positive mental shift. Goals set a point in the future in which I may be successful. But implementing a system changes my direction, and my perspective, right now.

His idea reminds me that small changes do matter over time, and are more sustainable.

I can choose today to change the direction of my health in a favorable way, not by signing up for a race or swearing off carbs forever, but perhaps by choosing to do ONE of these extra small things for my health today:

  • Fitting in an extra short walk
  • Throwing a Frisbee in the yard with the kids
  • Drinking an extra glass of water or two
  • Eating an extra serving of vegetables or two
  • Sitting down with a book for 15 minutes
  • Subbing some seltzer and a splash of juice for that glass of wine
  • Spending a few minutes in prayer and giving thanks
  • Doing a set of push ups in between kitchen tasks
  • Doing some extra weeding

Small changes over time can make big differences in our energy levels, our confidence, and our realization that our behavior does significantly impact our health. They can also save us from tackling too much and burning out on our big “get healthy plan”. Little changes have the potential to cause cascading effects that improve our lives over time.

So maybe today I’ll pick one extra thing to do to nudge my health trajectory in the right direction. I think I’ll be sporting sparkling water and a splash of juice in my wine glass – just for tonight.

What one small thing will you do today for your health?