Health is a Vehicle, NOT a Destination

Health & Wellness

Through my studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I came across a quote from the school’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, that has stuck with me ever since.

“Health is a vehicle, not a destination.”

I think this idea that Joshua has is so important to spread because today we live in a time where everyone is a know-it-all when it comes to health. You see articles and blogs every day that say things like “10 Steps to Better Health,” “45 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier,” “7 Superfoods to Add to Your Grocery List,” “5 Supplements to Take to Improve Your Health.” In reality, these people aren’t experts. Everyone is really just recommending their own specific formula of food, exercise, and supplementation that works for them. 

In all this confusion, new nutrition knowledge appears every year, new health products come onto the market, and new health advice is thrown into the mix. And here we are, just trying to make some sense out of it!

Plus with the thousands of content sources that show photoshopped images of fitness models, influencers, and bloggers out there it’s easy to get obsessed about what you need to do to be healthy. When you combine the crazy popularity of “lifestyle” articles and content in recent years, all of the nutrition confusion, and the constant barrage of ultra-toned models, there’s so much pressure to be “healthy.” Perfectly healthy, I might add.

But perfect health should not be the end goal. 

If you have any plans for the future – having kids, getting a new job, starting a business, getting married, traveling – you will need your health to get you there. But happiness and life fulfillment don’t fall into your lap once you walk through magical golden gates to the land of perfect health.

Health is very important, but we shouldn’t just stop there. Health is what allows us to be active in the world. However, the problem is that most people don’t think of health in this way. They don’t view their physical health as a vehicle to greater things in life. Instead, people tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to how they approach their health and wellness.

Group One: Those who KNOW they need to make health a priority and don’t.

The first group of people that I’m going to talk about are the people who constantly say things like: 

  • “I should workout”
  • “I should eat better”
  • “I should take vitamins”
  • “I should go to the doctor”
  • “I should go to the dentist”
  • “I should drink more water”
  • “I should drink less alcohol”
  • “I should stop eating so much junk food”
  • “I should eat more fruits and veggies”

SHOULD is the keyword here.

These people aren’t completely happy with their bodies and constantly think about how they need to improve and what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing. Maybe they even feel guilty for it and it affects their self-confidence. 

This happens because while people understand what they have to do to improve their health, it’s another thing to actually do it. They get stuck in habits or stuck in a rut and can’t seem to pull themselves out of it. It can feel impossible to undo years worth of habits that were slowly created. So getting healthy again, losing weight, and changing nutrition feels as difficult as climbing Mount Everest.

This is not because some of these people are any weaker, but because they lack the motivation, accountability, and support that they need to make these changes. More importantly, they often lack the understanding of how to create small steps each week that will bring about the big results.

That’s why you can see people going all out for one week with healthy habits, and then dropping them as quickly as they started and falling back into old behaviors: fried chicken, excess alcohol, Netflix binging, smoking, junk food, etc. 

Group Two: Those who are constantly trying to be healthier and healthier.

Now group two is on the other side of the spectrum. These people are on a quest for perfect health! These people try to eat healthier, and healthier, and healthier, and healthier, and healthier!

I’m sure you know some of these people too:

  • The give up dairy, gluten, and soy
  • They might not drink
  • They swore off sugar and caffeine
  • They make smoothies and juices every morning
  • The go vegan
  • They take supplements
  • They constantly know random food facts
  • They buy organic
  • They only drink alternative milk

These people are going to die in perfect health if it’s the last thing they do. (Do you see the issue there?)

While these people are ultra health-conscious, this behavior isn’t much better. There’s a point where people can get too strict about being healthy to the point where it ruins the fun. Our food is incorporated so much into our primary foods like relationships, home environment, and joy, that it often holds people back by making their life less satisfying when they’re overly strict and concerned about diet.

This is why in recent years there’s been an entirely new eating disorder that came to light called orthorexia nervosa, which is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food.

Now, not everyone from group two is orthorexic! But, the point is that some people eat very healthy and are miserable. This way of thinking completely ignores the entire reason for being healthy in the first place. To think that there’s a correlation between perfect health and being happy is missing the entire point of why we take care of our physical body.

The goal isn’t to get perfectly healthy. You’re not suddenly going to be greeted by the Gods of Health as you’re making your smoothie in the morning to tell you that you’ve done everything right and you’re now part of a group of the elite, ultra-healthy people on the planet. Nor is life going to get better because you decided to be stricter with yourself by giving up sugar or gluten.

The Truth About Health

Not everyone falls into two specific groups like this, but many people do exist in these two groups – one of them ignoring their health and the other one being overly concerned about it. Neither one of these lifestyles is good for us. You can’t boycott healthy behavior because it seems difficult as much as you can’t swing the other way and let leading a “healthy” life control you. Both behaviors are UN-healthy.

Even if you’re at the 86th percentile of health, that’s wonderful! Work out several days a week and eat well 80% of the time, and you’re doing fantastic. Pat yourself on the back, because you’re doing a great job.

Health is extremely important but it’s not the end goal. Health a vehicle to everything else in life that you want: better relationships, financial freedom, happy memories, plenty of travel, a fulfilling career, and more. Health is what helps you get to all of those other places, it’s NOT the destination.

If you’re extremely sick and unhealthy if affects every single aspect of your life and puts a strain on you. If you’re overly strict about your diet, then it takes fun, joy, and spontaneity out of other areas of your life. However, if you’re in good health, it affects all of the other aspects of your life for the better!

You feel better, you look better, you can be more productive, you can have a fulfilling life, and you can feel well enough to work on your bucket list.

Think about it like this: Every day you get in your car and you drive to work, to the store, to coffee dates, to your chiropractor, etc. You’re in and out of your car all day long getting to your destination. And while you’re in your car, you don’t even think about your car! You’re thinking about other things, or where you’re going, or the rest of your day. Your mind is completely freed up while your vehicle effortlessly takes you to your destination.

Now, what if instead of your car effortlessly getting you to your destination, your tire popped or your engine wouldn’t start? What then?

You would be stuck! You wouldn’t be able to do anything that you set out to do that day, and all of your energy would be put toward dealing with your car so that you can get back to your intentions. 

Our health is just like that. Everything we do in life we do because our physical body is healthy, allowing us the freedom to do what we want. Once our health is taken away, we can’t do anything. We need our health for strength to get us to our true destinations.

By viewing our health as a vehicle to greater things in life, these two groups of people that millions of us exist in, can finally thrive and find a happy medium. They can learn to take care of their health–mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually–to achieve their goals and find their happiness.

Creating a Grassroots Movement 

However, this type of mentality is going to take a while to change, because as we all know, it’s going to come from doctors, or our government, or the food industry. It has to come from all of us, working together to better ourselves and supporting each other to do so.

No one is going to come to save us and force us to engage in healthy behavior. On top of that, we have companies making billions of dollars off of us being sick. One of my favorite quotes is by Wendell Berry and it illustrates this point perfectly:

“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”

SO, we have to work together to make sure that we are taking the steps needed to live a happy and healthy life. Whether that’s by finally paying attention to our health OR by relaxing and not being overly strict with ourselves. 

How do we do this? By creating support, accountability, and motivation for each other.

Because not only do we have all of these additional challenges as I mentioned before, BUT health is often something that people have to deal with all on their own. Have you noticed that when you have a health concern, no one talks to you about it? No one monitors you or asks you how your health is, or if you’re ok, or if you need help. No one calls you up and asks you what your wellness goals are and supports you in that transition. No one checks in with you after making a new year’s resolution to see how you’re doing getting back to the gym or cutting out junk food.

That’s the problem! Health is such a private issue that we don’t talk about it and don’t receive any help with it. Yet we ALL struggle with it one way or another!

This needs to be changed above anything. We all need to find someone to talk to about our health concerns and keep us accountable to engage in healthy behavior. We shouldn’t be working at it completely alone. We’ve been doing that for years, and it hasn’t helped!

By doing this (one relationship at a time), it will create a grassroots movement around the world and slowly change the way we look at health and our entire food industry and health care system. It has the potential to change the world and put a stop to this global health crisis that we’re in. But only if enough of us do it.

How do we create a grassroots movement?

We can create this grassroots movement together, simply by connecting and making our health a priority together. Here’s how:

1. Health and Accountability Coaching

The first thing that I recommend is working with a holistic health and accountability coach like me.

It’s incredible how having one person there as your cheerleader and accountability buddy gives you the push to finally make the changes you’ve been talking about for so long. Because while many people know what they should be doing for their health and wellbeing, they are often overwhelmed by the amount of change they need to create in their lives and need assistance and accountability in implementing small lifestyle changes (one at a time) – that’s where I come in.

As a holistic health coach, I take a full-body approach to health and wellness. I understand that every single aspect of our lives nurtures us, from the food on our plates, to our finances and relationships, to the amount of joy we have in our lives. If even one aspect of our lives is out of whack, we’re off balance and unable to be our best selves. 

I provide that one-on-one connection, support, and encouragement that you need in meeting your personal wellness goals. I also guide you on how to gradually implement new habits so that they are sustainable. 

BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION WITH ME.

2. Accountability buddies 

The second way we can create a grassroots movement and improve health globally by working with an accountability buddy. As I mentioned above, one of the major flaws in the way we look at health is that it’s viewed as a private issue and that people are left to struggle with their health goals and alignments without any help. Eventually, they have no choice but to turn to doctors who only prescribe pills, ignore the root cause of the health concern, and look at the human body as separate parts.

A holistic health coach does help with this tremendously. Honestly, having a coach in any aspect of your life is highly beneficial. However, it’s important to have other people in your life act as your cheerleaders, support system and accountability buddies too. Because we shouldn’t always have to always pay for support, right? We want to create several personal relationships that fulfill us and push us to be better.

The more you can expand your network with health-minded people who want to help each other, the better you will feel and the faster you will see improvements in your life. For example, I have my own health coach, but I also have an accountability buddy for my nutrition school homework who is also an herbalist and DoTerra advocate. We help each other with school and she’s helping me heal my leaky gut. 

But this doesn’t just go for health too, it’s the same for every single aspect of our lives. For example, I have a business coach who has helped me in so many ways. On top of that, I’m also in a business-centered book club and support group with other young, female entrepreneurs. I also have a friend who is my business accountability buddy! We now call each other every morning, Monday-Friday at 9 a.m. to share what our intentions and affirmations are for the day. Additionally, I now attend networking events around my area.

If we really want to improve ourselves and our communities, we can’t do it alone. Period. We must expand our network as much as possible and find people that we trust to provide us that one-on-one support and accountability. Talking with several people about your health is going to be much more helpful.

3. Support groups 

The next way we can change our mindset about health and create this grassroots movement is by setting up or attending support groups as I mentioned in the last point. It doesn’t matter what your health goals or concerns are, there’s a support group for that! If you’re struggling with a health concern, there’s a conference about it, a Facebook page about it, or a support group for it! And if you’re looking to improve your health in any way, there are tons of groups for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to lose weight, train for a marathon, quit drinking, practice yoga, etc. – There is a group for that!

A half an hour spent searching through all the Facebook groups in St. Petersburg, Fla., and I found several group dinners that people hold, vegan potlucks, running groups, and yoga meetups. Another half an hour scan on Eventbrite and I found tons of spiritual events, special interest and hobby groups, health and wellness-based workshops and more.

This is where you will find that support that you’re looking for, and by the way, they won’t always be labeled as “support groups.” The support group I’m in is called a “book club,” and honestly we hardly ever bring up the book! We spend the entire time venting, brainstorming, and helping each other.

Get out of your comfort zone and attend groups like this in your area, because that’s where you’re going to connect with people who have similar interests as you and form those strong bonds with each other. And if you can’t find one, make one.

Recently, I found myself being bummed out that I didn’t have people to talk about the Law of Attraction with and it’s such a big part of my life. I wished I could sit down and talk about it in-depth, but where the hell do you find a group that meets up and spends hours talking about manifestation? So, I made one. I made an event that’s being held in January called the Manifestation Meetup, and I plan on holding it once a month in the new year to bring people together who are interested in this topic. 

4. Wellness events 

The last piece of advice that I believe we can use to change our mindset about health and improve this global health crisis is by putting on and attending wellness events. This one is similar to the support groups, but not as intimate. This is on a larger scale.

By creating and attending large wellness events we can raise consciousness and spread the message of holistic health and balanced living on a larger scale. And possibly, spread this message with people wouldn’t typically hear about it.

What better way to create a grassroots movement than by getting thousands of people together to talk about holistic health and wellness, share stories, share products, and exchange information? 

Thanks for Coming to Lost Online!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post about how health is a vehicle, not a destination and how we can create a grassroots movement to change our individual health, and understanding of health and wellness on a larger scale. 

These steps I shared with you will help all of us to vocalize our health concerns, our stumbling blocks, and wellness goals. And that freedom to finally talk to people openly about our health is what’s going to create that accountability and support needed to make lifestyle changes for real

I encourage you to get out of your bubble (starting right now, in this new year and new decade) and understand that you do not have to be alone when it comes to your health and wellness journey. 

DON’T stay stuck in those two groups I talked about! Set up a free health history consultation with me to talk about your goals and concerns, seek out accountability buddies, and attend local groups or wellness events to expand your network and find people who will push to be better.

BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION WITH ME.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Do you fall into group one or group two when it comes to your lifestyle behaviors? Why do you think that is? Have you viewed health as a destination up until this point? Do you agree that health is a vehicle? How else can we create a grassroots movement to change our behavior and misunderstandings about health?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Why Your Resolutions Haven’t Worked… Until Now + My New Year’s Resolution! I Dub 2020 “The Year of Fun”

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Self-Help

It’s that time of year again!

2019 flew by and now it’s 2020! And I can’t freaking wait! In my opinion, New Year’s is the most wonderful time of year, not Christmas. If you’re a self-improvement junkie like me, then you might feel the same way too.

I’m super obsessed with self-improvement and I’m a very introspective person. In a past life, I bet I was a philosopher or a therapist or something along those lines. So I live for this time of year when the whole country is in that frame of mind too! I love the reflection of the past year, the goal setting, the discussions about resolutions, the vision board creation, the crisp pages of a brand new planner. Ugh, I’m such a dork. (Oh well. We’ve already established that by now.)

Anyways, I LOVE New Year’s. And I love that this is a time where YOU are also in that frame of mind that I’m in 365 days a year! Right now, you’re thinking about your own goals and resolutions, you’re reflecting on you the past year, and you’re visualizing the person you want to become in 2020. Oh, how that makes me smile!

BUT, even though those goals and the promise of a fresh start are in the front of your mind, there’s that pesky little doubt in your mind that keeps floating around to irritate you just when you’re really starting to have a good time. Like a gnat that keeps flying around your face. You know that one I’m talking about:

“New Year’s resolutions NEVER work.”

Well, to be perfectly honest (and it pains me to say this) most of them don’t. Most resolutions are lucky to make it until February, let alone stick until the end of the year or turn into a healthy habit you keep going throughout your life! BUT that’s not the resolutions fault!!!

What I’m noticing in my conversations with people about resolutions is very sad for a personal coach and self-help writer like myself. I’m noticing that almost everyone I talk to tells me that they are NOT setting a resolution this year because “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work.”

Yes, your resolution may have fizzled out before, but that doesn’t mean we should STOP trying to better ourselves guys!!! 

Come on here!

You’re telling me that you’re not even going to try to lose that extra weight because you couldn’t last year?! You’re not going to try to read one book because you didn’t finish a book in 2019?! You’re telling me that you’re not going to ease up on drinking because you were unsuccessful before?! You’re saying that you’re not even going to attempt to give up smoking because it hasn’t worked previously?!

That automatic willingness and contentment people have with giving up on themselves makes my entire being CRINGE. 

If you only take one piece of advice from my entire blog, I want it to be this: Don’t give up on bettering yourself. EVER. And especially don’t give up on yourself because a prior resolution didn’t work for you.

It’s not that resolutions don’t work or are impossible to follow through! They didn’t work because you didn’t have the TOOLS that you needed to be successful. You walked into the New Year WITHOUT any action steps, or a plan, or accountability and you woke up on the other side of the New Year with a hangover and relied solely on limited motivation and willpower to take the next 365 days by storm.

So if this is you, every 1st of the year, deciding that “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work,” this post is going to help you get over that and understand how it IS possible to make them last. AND, if you’re someone sitting here super pumped to start your resolutions, then this post is also going to be great for you!

In this blog post, I will help you accomplish your resolutions FOR REAL. Here are the TOP 5 reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail AND 5 ways to help them STICK in 2020.

The Top 5 Problems with New Year’s Resolutions & Why They ALWAYS Fail

So now, let’s get to the good stuff. Why do resolutions always fail?! Well, I promise it’s not because they are doomed to fail and setting annual goals to improve your life is pointless. It’s because of these 5, very avoidable mistakes that WE make – the resolution doesn’t make it for us!

1. Many resolutions are WAY too big.

I have no idea how many people actually accomplish the resolutions they set out to do at the beginning of the year, but I’m pretty damn sure that it’s next to 0%. This is partially because of what I talked about in the blog post, “The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life.”

In all of our excitement to improve ourselves and the high that we get from the possibility of a “fresh start” and becoming our fantasy selves, we try to do too much at once. When we do that, we set ourselves up for failure. We create sweeping declarations, announcements, and to-do lists of all the things we SAY we want to do, and then don’t actually do them. It’s like we psych ourselves out and eventually, we don’t get anything done. It’s actually one of the ways that I self-sabotage. I create massive lists and expectations for things that I have to do and set the bar so damn high that I’ve already made it difficult to accomplish those things before I have even started.

If you’ll remember, for 2019 I came up with over 20 New Year’s Resolutions. I’m pretty sure it was 24. How Vata of me! I got caught up in the excitement of a new year, a new job, a new city, and a new apartment! There were so many changes at the start of 2019 that I thought I would leave this year being a changed woman. That it was going to be my best year yet. And that by the end of these last 12 months, I would emerge a completely transformed person with a hefty list of tasks checked off. That didn’t happen. I bit off more than I could chew, and in the end, nothing got done.

That’s what many of us self-improvement junkies do. We list off every single life-long dream or every single aspect of our lives that we want to improve and expect ourselves to get it done by the first of the year! That’s mistake #1. So remember this as you’re writing down this year’s resolutions. (Note to self, Heather.)

2. They aren’t goals you’re ACTUALLY interested in doing.

You might be reading this bullet point thinking, “Of course I want to do these things! What do you mean I’m not interested in doing them?!”

But here’s the thing, many people (myself included) set goals for themselves that they have no real interest in doing. Why? Because there’s such a thing as your REAL SELF and your FANTASY SELF. Your real self is you. The real you and your real personality. The fantasy self is how you WISH you were. I’m not talking about the version of yourself you hope to become or your life-long goals. I’m talking about the things you wish you could alter about your personality or desires, but can’t.

For example, I’m an introvert but my fantasy self is an extrovert. I HATE cooking, but my fantasy self cooks all the time, meal preps, hosts Thanksgiving dinner, and throws parties with FABULOUS food that I made myself. My real self enjoys exercising alone at the gym but my fantasy self does CrossFit and competes in CrossFit competitions. The real me likes to go to yoga sometimes, the fantasy me is an actual yogi who can do every single ridiculous yoga pose known to man. See what I mean? I don’t actually want to do those things and those things about me are not going to change.

In past years, I have made resolutions that are representative of my fantasy self, but I have absolutely NO DESIRE to make those things happen. I love the IDEA of them, but I don’t actually want to do it. By letting your fantasy self creep into your resolutions, you can guarantee they are going to fail. 

3. Resolutions are often way too vague.

Another pattern I see over and over again, is people saying “I want to lose weight,” “I want to get in shape,” “I want to eat better,” “I want to do yoga more,” or “I want to focus on my business.” Those are great things to want for yourself, but if that’s the final copy of your New Year’s resolution…again it’s not going to work.

What does “I want to lose weight” mean? What does “I want to do more yoga” mean? By saying you want to do something MORE, I can say for certain that you’re not going to end up following through. In order to create resolutions that stick, you have you to make them specific. How much weight do you want to lose? How often do you want to practice yoga? What does “being in shape” look like to you? HOW are you going to focus on your business? What will that look like?

Otherwise, you’ll be walking into the new year without even understanding how you will accomplish your resolution and fit it into your life. You’re just banking on the fact that you’ll probably be motivated in the new year to follow through and be motivated all of the sudden.

4. Some resolutions can make you feel bad about yourself.

Another mistake that people make when they set resolutions for themselves is that they create a resolution that makes them feel terrible about themselves and remind themselves of their “flaws.”

Sometimes we unknowingly create resolutions that remind us of what we hate about ourselves RATHER than what we can realistically improve upon and creating goals that excite us. When you create a resolution like this, you are automatically going into 2020 thinking horrible thoughts about yourself and feeling crappy just for being YOU.

Here’s a perfect example: When I was in high school, “thigh gaps” were all the rage. Every magazine I read and every photo I saw with a beautiful girl in it, had a very distinct “thigh gap.” The thigh gap was SEXY, and I did not have one. I wasn’t the only one who felt bad about this though. I even watched TV specials where women were getting “lunchtime lipo” – a quick 20-minute liposuction procedure on the inner thigh to make your thighs look skinnier. So one of my New Year’s resolutions, back when I was in high school, was to shrink my thighs. If I remember correctly, I was trying to get 2 inches off of each one. It was incredibly unhealthy.

I SHOULD have focused on my health and cared about building a strong, healthy, happy body. But instead, I went into the year with a measuring tape and a horrible inner monologue about my body. I never did work out consistently, I never focused on my diet, I never established other healthy routines. All I did was think about how disgusted I was with this part of my body and how it didn’t match what the media was telling me I was supposed to look like.

People do this A LOT with weight loss resolutions. They focus on “losing 30 pounds”, “40 pounds,” “50 pounds,” rather than getting STRONGER, healthier, more flexible, and more confident. But those things are what you should be focusing on. When you say “My New Year’s resolution is to have a six-pack,” how do you think that’s going to go for you? Poorly. It’s not going to happen because you’re going to be focusing on how much you hate your body now and want it to change it. You’re starting the new year with nothing but bad intentions and gnarly self-talk that is going to be VERY hard to overcome.

Point being, there’s a fine line between a resolution that will HELP you and a resolution that will make you feel shitty about yourself.

5. We don’t have help OR a plan

The last reason why New Year’s resolutions often don’t succeed is that we don’t have help or establish a plan. Many of us say that we want to accomplish something without figuring out HOW we will get there. For example, let’s say that your resolution is to get in shape. If you don’t get a gym membership, don’t figure out healthy recipes you can make at home, don’t have an accountability partner or health coach, don’t have running shoes, and don’t know what to do to workout do you think you could do it? Nope. You’re going to stick with your same habits and routine.

I was just talking with someone who told me that her resolution was to lose weight and get in shape. To which I responded, “How do you plan on doing that?” “I don’t know,” she said. Let me tell you, “I don’t know,” is not going to keep you on track for the next 365 days. 

I see this again and again with people who create any resolution, but especially health resolutions. It’s simple, if you don’t have a PLAN to make that resolution happen, you will NOT do it. Without a plan, you’re just hoping a surge of inspiration and motivation will SLAP you across the face every morning. You’re hoping that you’ll have enough willpower to avoid the fried chicken or donuts or red wine. You’re hoping that you’ll FEEL like going to the gym. You’re hoping that you will WANT to do yoga every day. You’re hoping that you will be IN THE MOOD to mediate and read each night instead of watching Netflix. But you won’t. I promise. Without a plan, it’s all just talk.

Additionally, without help, it’s all just talk. Because even if you create a plan for yourself and figure out HOW you’re going to follow through with these things this year, you will need SUPPORT. Every single person has shitty days and needs encouragement; every single person needs someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of; every single person needs community and positive relationships. The reason why so many resolutions fail is not that resolutions are doomed. It’s because people don’t have a plan to make them happen or someone to keep them accountable and support them.

How to Set Reasonable & Accomplishable Resolutions 

So now that we’ve talked about the top 5 mistakes that people make when creating their New Year’s resolutions, let’s get you past them! I put together a list of 5 tips that you can use to help you set reasonable and accomplishable resolutions in 2020. If you take these 5 pieces of advice, you’re in a MUCH better position to make your goals a reality this year. This is how you set yourself up for success:

STEP 1: Reflect on the last year 

Now before you get excited and frantically write down your goals for the new year, it’s extremely important to reflect on the previous year. It doesn’t make sense to jump ahead to the next year without taking a moment to reflect on the last 365 days FIRST. You spent so much time and effort thinking about 2019, setting goals, visualizing the new year, it doesn’t make sense to move on right away and pretend like it didn’t happen. A LOT happened last year in your life and I think it’s super important to honor that and take AT LEAST an hour to reflect on how that year was for you. A whole year went by! There were so many accomplishments, pitfalls, travels, memories, relationships. There was so much growth, so much progress, so much heartache, so much drama, so much love, so much happiness that happened in that entire year! Take the time to sit down and really reflect on how 2019 went for you. Honor the last YEAR of your life! How was it? Did it go well? Were you happy? Did you do what you wanted to do? Were you your best self? Were you NICE to people?

And trust me, if you’re REALLY NOT wanting to reflect on the last year, it means that you REALLY DO have to reflect on the last year. Even if 2019 was kind of a nightmare, it’s important that you take the time to think about it. Don’t pretend like that year of your life didn’t exist.

Example: My Journaling Tradition

My new tradition each year is to sit down and journal about the previous year. I answer several different journal prompts that get me thinking about the year that I just had, what I learned from it, and what I want to take into the next year. These New Year’s reflections were published on my blog, so feel free to go back and read them to get inspiration for what prompts you want to answer too. It’s a super easy and fun tradition AND you can do it with other people which I love! Last year Matt and I went to a New Year’s Reflections Meetup and did these prompts together which we both really enjoyed. Check out those previous blogs to get some ideas and see if some of the prompts resonate with you. If you need any additional New Years’ prompts, Pinterest is filled with them!

Reflecting on 2019: 13 Journal Prompts & My Answers

Reflecting on 2018: 13 Journal Prompts & My Answers

STEP 2: Pick a theme or a word for the year

The next step is to choose a theme, word, or phrase for the coming year. Or maybe 1-3 words if you’re really feeling inspired. Many people actually prefer choosing a word or a theme more than resolutions because it’s not as intimidating. A lot of times, one word is much easier to stick to than a list because it’s easy to remember AND it allows you to be flexible with your “resolution.”

As long as you remind yourself of that word or theme, you’ll be far more likely to stick to it. Choosing a word for the year has the same benefits as choosing an affirmation or intention for the day. It’s an extra measure that will help you to create a single-pointed focus. This word or words helps you guide the decisions and choices you make and how you spend your time. It also keeps you motivated and prevents you from getting distracted by whatever comes up by making sure that what how you’re spending your time is in alignment.

I recommend putting this word around your house, on your corkboard, in your planner, on your phone, or in decorations. Having a single word or phrase AND having a visual reminder of it will help you to remember it, stay inspired, and stay on track. Some examples of words, phrases, or themes that people choose for the New Year are conscious, family, intentional, slow down, thoughtful, deliberate, create, meditate, celebrate, listen, progress, possibility, today, consistency, or gratitude. 

If you still want to create goals and resolutions like me, you can then use this word or theme to create goals that align with it. This step will further set you up for success.

Example: My New Year’s Theme? To Have Fun!

This year, I’ve decided my theme for 2020 will be the year of fun. Well, not just the year of fun. I’ve decided that it would be the year of fun, financial abundance, and professional growth.

I was so focused on professional growth and stressing out about money last year that I didn’t have any fun at all. I was deeply terrified of failure and stuck in my limiting beliefs that I didn’t think AT ALL about relaxing and having fun. I was in a constant state of stress because all I cared about or could think about was, “What if I don’t make it?”

I poured every ounce of my emotion and mental energy into my blog and the worries that I had about it that I made myself miserable. But recently I had an epiphany…

Yes, I still want to be a personal coach, an author, a blogger, and podcaster – BUT I don’t want those things at the expense of my own happiness.

So yes, as a young woman starting a business for the first time ever, I am still going to make professional growth and finances a priority, BUT I will make sure that I have fun doing it. I’m not going to throw away 365 days of being happy to publish some ebooks, take on clients, and starting a podcast.

Accomplishing my goals and dreams means nothing if I’m making myself feel like crap to do it.

The second reason why I dub this the year of fun is because 2019 was a very hard year for me. Like I talked about in my blog post “Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It,” a lot happened that weighed on my mind and made me extremely unhappy.

I was very depressed in 2019 and went through a series of ruts that lasted far longer than any I’ve ever experienced. I also spent most of the year working from home on my blog and leading a very isolated life. Luckily, I am now on the OTHER SIDE! I have a coach, I have a community, I have a home office, I have events and meetups that get me out of the house, and I’m MUCH happier than I have been in years. But 2019 was still very emotional and very sad for me and I want to make up for all that. For this reason, I dub 2020 the year of FUN!

I’m going to make this year as fun and exciting as possible. I’m making it a point to fill this year with fun and happiness as much as I possibly can. To go to concerts, to try new things, to get out of town for the weekend, to attend networking events, and to have date nights (that aren’t just going out to the same taco shop we’ve gone to 101 times). To truly make an effort to focus on my own happiness and not let it take a back seat to my goals.

STEP 3: Write out your goals and action plans 

After coming up with a theme, write down your specific goals for the year AND your action plan. The biggest mistake that we make over and over is setting a goal for ourselves WITHOUT any planning or preparation whatsoever. But changing the automatic habits that you’ve had for YEARS is not going to work if you just say “I want to lose 50 pounds” without figuring out the HOW of it all.

Figuring out how is what makes the difference between a dreamer and a DO-ER.

For example, I can think of a few people who have told me over and over again, “I want to do a triathlon.” They don’t have the equipment, they don’t have a bike, they don’t have a training schedule, they don’t ever sign up for one. So guess what? It never happens. A dream is just that – a dream. A dream with a PLAN is a goal. (An achievable goal for that matter.)

So as you’re writing down you’re resolutions this year, write down the ACTION PLANS too. How are you going to do that thing you want to do? Do you want to get in shape? Write down at least 6 action plans right now. Make sure they are things that you can actually commit to. Do this with every single goal or resolution that you have, not just at the beginning of the year, but all year long. Make it a point to create your action plans and put them in writing. 

Example: My Action Plan – The Yes Man Month

So as you know, my resolution is to have fun WHILE focusing on finances and my new business. So how do I plan on doing this? 

To do this, I am having an entire “Yes Man Month” inspired by the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey. In my Yes Man Month I will say yes to one thing each day that is going to put me WAY out of my comfort zone or something that I always SAY that I want to do, but DON’T.

I decided to make this my action plan this year because whenever I make myself go outside of my comfort zone, it brings me more satisfaction and happiness than anything in the world (well, aside from my blog and business).

Whenever I try something that I’ve never done before, I LOVE it. It stimulates my mind, it gives me something new to talk about, it teaches me something that I’ve never known before, and it helps me to meet people. It makes me happier than anything. Whenever I step outside of my comfort zone or finally do something that I fantasize about doing but never actually invest the time and energy into doing, I feel like a whole new person.

In this “Yes Man Month” I will be carefully crafting an entire month of activities for myself to do that are all designed to be something that I would NEVER do. Things that literally terrify me, make me uncomfortable, or just “aren’t my thing.” Of course, I’ll be documenting this experience and share it with you when it’s complete.

The next action plans that I have for making the resolution my reality include doing something fun with Matt every single week, taking more weekend trips, and attending one event, group or coffee date every week. I have a solid plan to incorporate my resolution into my life each week AND best of all, they are steps that are easy and I actually WANT to do. 

STEP 4: Make sure you actually want to do the things you say you do

Like I said previously when I was talking about why resolutions typically fail – one of the top reasons is because the resolutions we make are sometimes not what we want to or are willing to do. They are reflective of that fantasy self you have in your head that is perfect in every way, is motivated all the time, and does things your real self has no desire to do. So step number 4, before you commit to anything is to make sure that you really do want to do these things you say you do. Because if you feel any sort of dread towards one of your goals this year, you will not do them.

Now, I’m not talking about the fact that you may deeply desire to be healthy and in shape but you don’t feel like going to the gym one day. I’m talking about saying that your goal this year is to run a marathon when running makes every single ounce of your being want to drop dead. The real you hates running more than anything on the face of the earth but the fantasy self in your head – the imaginary person you wish you could be – runs marathons. Make absolutely sure that your fantasy self is NOT the one setting your goals and resolutions this year. Make sure that everything on that list is what you want to do, not something you think you should want to do.

Example: My 2020 Goals & Book List

Last year, I did not do a fabulous job at this. I hadn’t quite learned the difference between the real Heather and her personality and desires and the fantasy Heather. At the beginning of 2019, I was in a place where I was very focused on spirituality. I was in a tough place emotionally because I was constantly trying to decide if I was REALLY going to take a leap, quit my job, blog full-time, and start studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. So I really needed spirituality in my life to guide me and let me know that I was safe and it was all going to be ok.

Every single moment of content that I absorbed for several months was either about yoga, meditation, or new age spirituality. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still obsessed with all those things. However, at this stage of my life, I was soaking up this content at an abnormal rate and started to really admire the yogi and the spiritual leaders that I listened to. So day by day, a new fantasy Heather has started to emerge and at the end of 2018, that version of me wrote my New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to do yoga every day; I wanted to be able to do a split and all of these other crazy difficult poses; I wanted to oil pull each day; I wanted to volunteer my time so that I could become more selfless; I wanted to practice acro-yoga every weekend and get CRAZY Instagram influencer level good at it. But then, everything changed. I got out of that stage of my life, quit my job, and went off on my own. Before I knew it, I didn’t need the constant spiritual content to keep me calm, and slowly that fantasy Heather disappeared, and I was left with a list of resolutions that the real me had no DESIRE to actually do. 

This year, the REAL Heather wrote my resolutions and my 2020 book list. My goals are only the things that the real me is dying to accomplish and already thinks about constantly. Things like writing ebooks, a physical book, creating a podcast, and launching my coaching business. Every goal I set and every book I said I wanted to read, I’m crazy excited to do. There’s nothing on there that I’m dreading. Take a look for yourself at my 2020 goals and book list. 

STEP 5: Establish accountability partners, coaches, and groups that will help you

The main flaw that I see in our society when it comes to the way we view health, self-improvement, and personal goals is that we think these are things that should be done in private. We are alone in our efforts to better ourselves. No one asks us about our personal goals, no one asks us how we’re doing accomplishing them, no one asks us how our health concerns are going, and we don’t ask them either. We set goals for ourselves but they’re always kept private. Wouldn’t it be “awkward” or “impolite” to talk about them?

Which means that when we want to meditate every day, journal every week, start a podcast, lose weight, write a book, lower cholesterol, run a 10k, quit sugar, build a piece of furniture, go vegan, build a tiny house, or anything else – no one is there to encourage us and keep us going. The only person we have to share our ups and downs with and keep us motivated and accountable is OURSELVES. But when we do that, the chances of success are chopped in half.

We are social creatures and we all need help, guidance, motivation, and inspiration from each other. So the last step before you can take this new year and new decade by storm is to not only figure out your goals and actions plans but to find PEOPLE to support you and act as your accountability partners. I’m not talking about “followers” or “online communities.” I’m talking about real, living breathing, in your face, with-an-actual-body people. People that you can open up to, cry to, or vent to. People that you can talk to about an aspect of your life that you deeply want to improve but are struggling with. This could be a friend, or someone you met at a networking event, or a group that meets regularly, or a personal coach like myself. Whatever it looks like, find someone who is working on the same thing as you and make them your accountability buddy.

Bonus tip: This usually works better if you’re not SUPER close to the person like a parent or spouse. Having someone who you’re close with but isn’t an immediate friend or family is going to have a much better outcome. By choosing someone you’re super close to, you might be less inclined to follow through because you don’t feel as if you have to follow through because they will “understand” if you don’t. But, everyone is different, so you may be one of the lucky few who can be successful with a parent or spouse. It doesn’t matter what this relationship looks like as long as it works for you and helps to keep you accountable.

Look back at your goals and your action plans and think about who would make a good accountability buddy for them. And if you honestly can’t think of anyone because your network is very small, then hire a coach or start networking in your area. I PROMISE you there are people just like you who have similar goals and are dying for support too.

Example: My Own Transformation

I know how powerful accountability partners are because none of my personal goals started to come to life until I hired a business coach and joined a business and self-improvement focused book club (which is so much fun it literally feels like a slumber party whenever we meet up). In the TWO MONTHS I’ve had these women in my life I started writing a book, planned an event, finally declared to the world that I am a health coach, creating marketing materials, started an ebook, finished a new page on my website, established my pricing for my coaching service programs, started pitching myself to brands, started doing reach outs, and more. I am living proof that this works! It’s only been two months and I’m astounded by the progress I’ve made just from having people to talk to, or ask for advice, or brainstorm with, or even just cheer me on. Now imagine what an entire 365 days of putting this into practice will turn into! Those projects I’ve started and the goals that I set for myself will be completed. And yours will too.

Remember, every single one of us needs help! Every single one of us needs support! Do not ever, under any circumstances, feel guilty or weak or ashamed that you need help in any aspect of your life. If you take this advice to heart and find your accountability partner (even if it’s someone you hire) you will be FAR more productive and successful in this New Year.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online! I really hope that this blog post has convinced you that New Year’s resolutions CAN work. To have a successful New Year, all you have to understand are what top 5 mistakes to avoid when setting your goals and follow my 5 steps to creating reasonable and accomplishable resolutions. Becoming the most productive, successful, happy version of yourself is just around the corner if you go about your goal setting with thoughtfulness and intention.

Before you head out, let me know what you think in the comments! Are you someone who has historically take the perspective of “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work?” If so, was I able to make you more hopeful about them? OR are you someone who’s a self-improvement junkie who lives for goals and resolutions? Whichever group you’re in, what is your word or theme for the year? What are your resolutions or goals for 2020? What are your action steps? Are you 100% you’re willing and excited to do these things this year? And who are you’re accountability partners? I would LOVE to hear from you!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.