The world we live in today has become so fast-paced, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the constant buzz of never-ending activity.
The current global, covid-19 pandemic that has claimed thousands of jobs and lives across the world, hasn’t made things any easier. However, it has forced us to rethink our priorities, especially in regards to our health.
Before the pandemic, we mostly allowed productivity, results, and achievements to define and give us a false sense of fulfillment.
Thankfully, this dreadful pandemic has given us clarity, amplifying that our relentless pursuit for purpose and fulfillment is leading to poor health and decreased human connection.
We don’t sleep enough or talk to each other anymore; we’ve shifted our attention to electronic gadgets and devices.
Research has proven that human connections and healthy relationships contribute to increased happiness and improved health. According to a 75-year-long Harvard study that’s considered the most extensive study, good relationships matter the most and are key factors for long-lasting happiness.
Yet, it’s possible to live a healthy, fulfilling, and well-balanced life. How did you ask? Well, let’s explore some of the ways we can start to experience actual fulfillment in our lives.
1 PRIORITIZING HOLISTIC HEALTH
When you hear the word health, what comes to mind? Or rather, what does health mean to you?
To most people, good health means not being sick in your body. Most people think of health as physical only. And to be fair, that’s how we’ve been socialized to think.
Hospitals, governments, the media, and even educational institutions have prioritized physical health for decades. Only recently have other aspects of health, such as mental and spiritual health, started getting any attention in media coverage, government funding, etc.
It’s important to understand health is holistic and all-encompassing, involving our bodies, minds, and spirits. Therefore, holistic health consists of physical, mental, and spiritual health and wellness.
For us to function at our optimum, we must prioritize holistic health in its entirety. We can’t afford to focus on just one aspect while neglecting the rest. After all, if one part fails, the entire being fails.
Take, for example, a high-flying, successful CEO with marital problems causing him stress, which in turn messes with his appetite and quality of sleep.
As a result, he wakes up with low energy and feels lethargic throughout the day, so he can’t work out sustainably. With time, he starts sinking into depression. Soon enough, he has racing thoughts and becomes suicidal.
Eventually, an individual who was enjoying well-rounded, holistic health, to begin with, becomes holistically unhealthy.
His physical health has suffered due to poor sleep quality, changes in appetite and feeding habits, as well as deteriorating physical exercise.
His mental health has suffered due to stress, poor sleep quality which results in poor brain function, and depression.
His spiritual health has suffered due to depression, racing thoughts, and suicidal tendencies.
What started with one aspect of poor health, ends up spilling over to the remaining areas and spreading the illness to the entire being.
This is why we can’t afford to prioritize physical health only, over holistic – physical, mental, and spiritual health.
How do we do this?
Building a foundation of healthy habits is a great start. Our habits determine our routines, which in turn determine our actions and ultimately, our results.
Poor habits lead to damaging routines which cause destructive actions, producing mediocre results. The reverse is true; healthy habits lead to constructive routines which cause productive actions, producing profitable results.
If you want to prioritize holistic health, you must lay a foundation of healthy habits.
According to researchers at MIT in the 1990s, every habit is powered by a neurological loop that has three active parts – cue, routine, and reward. Charles Duhigg, in his book ‘The Power of Habit’, proceeds to show us that we can turn poor habits into healthy ones by changing only one part of the habit loop – the routine.
The theory is with self-awareness, you can discover the cue/trigger that influences every habit.
The first step to changing a habit is identifying the cue. This will help you catch yourself before you do the routine that follows your cue. Once you identify the cue, you then change the routine, keeping in mind you want to achieve the same reward.
In our case study above, the poor habit that started the downward spiral was stress. The cue for stress could be negative thoughts or unpleasant memories, which lead to negative feelings.
The routine would then be revisiting the scenario that led to this particular thought or memory. For example, rehashing an explosive conversation in his mind. The reward is, for example, validating their feelings.
So, how can our CEO change his routine while achieving the same reward? He can choose to meditate, for example. Meditation allows one to center themselves and still their minds. It brings peace and calmness. Through meditation, our CEO can remember why he fell in love with his spouse in the first place.
Start building powerful, healthy habits which will help you prioritize your holistic health. Use self-awareness to:
- Where do you want to be a year from now, as far as your holistic health is concerned? Create an actionable plan which will help you to achieve your desired results.
- What does your health look like currently? Be honest with yourself. Now, identify the habits which power the results you currently see in each aspect of your holistic health.
- Identify the current cues, routines, and rewards in each habit.
- Brainstorm new routines you can easily incorporate into your life to achieve the same reward.
- Actively and intentionally start changing your routines to change your habits into the powerful, positive habits which will get you to your desired holistic health.
2 SETTING SMART HOLISTIC HEALTH GOALS
There’s no succeeding in life without a vision, because vision provides direction. It’s universally known that the surest way to achieve your vision is by setting and following through on SMART goals.
According to a 1990 study by goal-setting theory leaders Edward Locke and Gary Latham, goals affect both behavior and performance. They help in mobilizing energy, leading to a higher effort which, in turn, leads to an increase in persistent effort.
SMART is an abbreviation for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
To achieve holistic health, your goals shouldn’t be random. They should be as specific as possible. This can only happen when you’ve identified exactly what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.
In the previous exercise, I asked you to identify exactly where you want to be in your holistic health a year from now and create an actionable plan to get you there.
Now, let’s get specific. Write down exactly what you want your mental, physical and spiritual health to look like a year from now.
You need to find a way to measure your goals.
Measuring your goals helps you measure and track progress, whether positive or negative. In case of negative progress, you can change, add or eliminate variables until you achieve your desired results.
Your goals should be achievable. The reason we often set goals which we only work on for a while before throwing in the towel is that we set mountainous goals which then intimidate and overwhelm us.
It’s okay to set big goals, but then divide them into smaller goals which will add up to the bigger goal. That way, you’ll achieve the smaller goals in a short amount of time which will give you small victories/milestones to celebrate and encourage you.
Again, huge, unrealistic goals can be overwhelming, and a set up for failure. It would be smart to set only realistic goals.
It’s often tempting to rush through processes and get instant gratification, but where goals are concerned, this approach may be harmful. The saying ‘slow but sure wins the race’ is a good guide in pursuing goals. Consistently pursuing your goals at a moderate pace gives you a better chance at victory.
While setting goals, keep them performance-based rather than outcome-based; this helps you retain control.
Using our case study above, some SMART goals would be:
- Get 7-8 hrs of high quality sleep daily. Sleep from 9p.m. to 4a.m. on weekdays and 10p.m. to 6a.m. on weekends.
- Eat 3 healthy, well balanced meals daily, at 10a.m, 1p.m, and 5p.m.
- Join a crossfit gym and enroll for a 5 a.m. class, four days a week, to build fitness, flexibility & strength.
- See a psychiatrist to get diagnosed and start a treatment plan for depression.
- See a therapist twice a month.
- Ask for a prescription and start taking daily supplements to improve brain function.
- Meditate for 45 minutes on weekdays and 1 hour on weekends.
- Start a daily gratitude journal to help build a positive attitude & mind.
- Write down your holistic health vision as clearly as you can.
- Create a vision board and display it somewhere you’ll see it daily.
- Create SMART goals to facilitate pursuing your vision.
- Divide larger goals into smaller milestones.
- Create actionable steps for each goal/milestone.
3 DISCIPLINE, CONSISTENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY
So far, you’ve set your smart goals and built a strong foundation of great habits to help you prioritize your holistic health.
You’re now ready for your holistic health journey. And whether it’s a hike, road trip, or flight, you’re getting to your destination because you’ve laid a foolproof foundation.
If you’re wondering how you’ll do that, here’s the exact blueprint to success:
Discipline • Consistency • Accountability •
According to a Wilhelm Hoffman study in 2013, self-disciplined individuals were happier and more capable of handling goal-related conflicts.
They debated less on whether to self-sabotage and made positive decisions more easily. They didn’t give in to feelings or make impulsive decisions. Instead, they made carefully considered, rational, and well-informed decisions daily, without feeling upset or stressed.
Discipline and consistency are blueprints you can apply to any goal, vision, and/or project you undertake at any time in your life. You can trust it to work for your holistic health vision.
Now, you can’t achieve discipline and consistency through willpower or wishful thinking. Rather, you should achieve and maintain them experientially. They’re a sacrifice of self-love.
Accountability, on the other hand, means your goals aren’t your secret to keep. It requires openness and vulnerability.
But look at it this way; you get to share your goals with someone else (who you trust) and have them affirm, correct, challenge, and cheer you on.
Some great accountability partners to consider are friends, therapists, nutritionists, coaches, personal trainers, and God.
When choosing an accountability partner for your holistic health journey, choose one who’s either on the same journey so you can encourage each other, or an expert who has gone before you, to guide, coach, and mentor you through it.
- Identify and approach possible accountability partners and ask them to help keep you accountable to your holistic health goals.
- Offer them reciprocal accountability for their goals.
- Share your holistic health vision and goals with them.
- Start cultivating discipline and consistency by working diligently on your goals.
Achieving fulfillment in life shouldn’t be results-oriented. Even failure carries lessons within it, so if you peg your fulfillment on results only, you may never find it.
Instead, choose to see fulfillment as a journey instead of the destination. Journeys are exciting because they’re often unpredictable. You only find out what lies ahead when you take the next step and if you stop, the journey stops.
Living a holistically healthy and fulfilling life is a journey on which you’re bound to collect lessons, successes, challenges, victories, failures, and relationships. It’ll transform your mindset and character for the best.
You’d be wise to consider letting FlexifyMe be your accountability partner throughout your holistic health journey. We have an able team of certified experts who’ll commit to your progress. Try us today.