Read these 10 Setting Health-Wealth Goals Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Health Management tips and hundreds of other topics.
You may have a goal to run a marathon…but you never ran before. Surely you aren't going to start by running 26+ miles! Then why would you think you will achieve both perfect health and wealth by changing one habit, or by doing one activity? It's just not possible.
Each time you do better at achieving a goal, you'll find you build “competency.” This means that you feel like you can achieve more, and therefore you will try more. Each time you try more, you increase the odds of succeeding.
Investing is the same idea. You buy one stock because someone advises you, and you get a “return on your investment,” because it increased in value. OK! That means you have more money, and perhaps a better idea, of where to put the next bit of money. You feel more competent to make the money-investing decisions.
Think about investing in health the same way. You lose that one inch around your waist—you feel more competent to try something new, to push your ability to try new health management ideas, like, perhaps, running a 5k (3 miles). You never ran before, so you might not make it the first time, but, because you know you have succeeded in losing that one inch, and that was hard, well, you figure you can try again to run the a 5k. This time you succeed.
It's time for the ½ marathon…because you are building the belief that you can succeed. That's competence.
If you are investing, there should be some dividends, right? Begin to notice these deposits into your health-wealth portfolio. Dividends are a special kind of reward to investors, a kind of “thank you for believing in the corporation.” You can also think of them as a token of appreciation, an increase in value, kind of like a compound savings account. The wealth, the rewards, the dividends multiply over time.
How does this happen in health? Revisit the asthma model. You take your medication as prescribed, no cheating, no missing. You find that you continue to breathe better every day. It's not just about NOT having an asthma attack…you really can breathe better: dividend number one. Because you can breathe better, you have more energy and can go further on your walks: dividend number two. Because you can go further on your walks, you begin to lose weight: dividend number three. Because you are losing weight, your clothes fit better and your knees stop aching at night: ka-ching!
All because you took your medicine properly.
When you are on a winning streak, take time to celebrate. Make the celebrations groove with your goals. Did you accomplish 5 days of walking this week? Enjoy a quiet cup of tea, or allow yourself a quiet hour of reading a great novel.
Not every “reward” has to cost money. Often, it's the pleasures of life that mean more. After your walk, take a moment to enjoy the sunset (or sunrise) before you move to the next task you must accomplish. Rejoice in the blue of the sky, or the incredible wonder of a star-filled sky.
On your next walk, share some time with your best friend—2 legged or 4-legged! Get your friend to walk with you, and see who can get up the hill faster. Take your dog for a walk and watch the unbridled appreciation of nature that she displays.
It may sound hokey or childish, but put a gold star on the calendar for every day that you accomplish your goal. After all, you are a winner….find a way to reward your soul for the achievement.
You can change a goal. Sometimes life throws you a curve, and you really can't achieve the goal at that time. Modify it, make it a win for yourself. Change it up to something more manageable.
Judy learned that her husband-to-be was scheduled for surgery, and unforeseen surgery that was quite serious. Yet, she was doing so well on her fitness plan that she kept pushing herself to get the 1 hour aerobic workout done every day, just as she had been before the diagnosis.
Only, she wasn't accounting for the additional stress. Luckily, she was a member of a gym and used an expert there to help guide her. The advice was to let go of the “goal” for a pre-determined time. In this case, she new her fiancé would be back at home in 7 days, so the added time at the hospital would be removed. She could resume her elliptical workouts when he came home.
By assessing the situation and giving herself permission, again, in a time-limited fashion, she could get back to her exercise without setting herself up for failure. The failure would have been not meeting her goal of everyday fitness; the permission decreased the stress, which is also a health risk. Increased stress could have left her with poorer health habits (extra wine or mood swings) that would be more injurious to her health, and that would have taught her that exercise increased her stress levels. These are all negative reinforcements that are harder to overcome.
Set yourself up to win.
Setting a goal will not propel you to do better. Goals provide incentive, but you must provide the determination. The best way to achieve goals are to write them down and put them where you can see them regularly.
When you write a goal, you imprint it in your mind. But everyone has lots of “to do's” in their day. And, emergencies and new tasks come up just when you least expect them.
Having your measurable goal in front of you, where you can see it at least once per day, is a reminder that you have a job to do: you must accomplish this goal. It's the desire to achieve that will keep you going. Even a simple goal can give you the confidence to stay on track.
“I will drink 6 glasses of water every day.” Quantifiable (6 glasses), finite (every day), and, while challenging, it is achievable. The reminder, by the water cooler, or by the sink, gives a final push each time you see it. It's doable, so why not have the moment to give yourself a pat on the back for job well done? How many other pats do you get during the day?
Set yourself up to achieve, and enjoy the moment each day, or each week, when you win!
In stock investing, the common rule is to not time the stock market. That means that you do your homework, analyzing your stock with valuable tools that tell you the price per share, the earnings per share, the status of equity ( does the company know how to manage its assets), etc.
In health investing, it's the same dynamic. You get tools that help you analyze the management of your health. You get regular check ups, you get your flu shot and your other preventive tests (chest X ray, electrocardiogram, etc.) and you manage your ongoing conditions as prescribed. You don't try to “time” the health by saying, “well I don't need to stop smoking now because I don't have a cough or any other signs of lung disease.” You know you're doing something really bad for your health, and, down the road, you are going to “pay” for it, with increased care costs, possible lung cancer, and other breathing issues.
If you smoke, stop now. If you are skimping on medicine, stop now. If you are not getting regular check-ups , get going. Saving money by skipping health management that is proven to deliver better outcomes—that's the same as “timing” the stock market, and very few people make money; most lose.
You can approach the health-wealth portfolio by setting wealth goals that have measurable health improvement targets….the door swings both ways!
You're getting proficient at considering the health goals, aren't you? In order to really make the connection, try setting a couple of wealth goals that you achieve by improving your health management.
It may seem a bit backward, but it's about using your resources wisely. In this case, your goal might be “to save $50.00 a month in my 401K plan.” Now you need to link this to a goal for health improvement.
Suppose you are managing your asthma, but your first inclination is to cut back on your inhaler. This will save you about $50 per month in co-pay costs. Now, think about it for a minute. You may get a short-term “win,” of the first and maybe 2nd month of savings $50. But what happens when you have an asthma attack because you are not managing your asthma according to the treatment plan? You may, in fact, end up in the emergency room, with a higher co-pay because you haven't met your $500 deductible. Oh oh, there goes your $100 in savings…in fact, you have now lost $400 ($500- 2 times $50= $400).
Now you know why you want to practice linking health and wealth goals. It's about using your resources for the BEST return on your money.
This book is about linking improved health to improved wealth, what we call the health-wealth portfolio. Therefore, when you are setting goals for decreasing risk or managing a chronic disease, as an example, think about linking the health goal to a wealth goal.
As an example, you may choose to lose the one inch around your waist in order to reduce abdominal fat, and therefore to reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Now, link this goal to a wealth goal: by losing the inch, you will save the money you might have spent on new pants because your waistband is getting too tight. Or, you may not have to increase your blood pressure medication because your blood pressure came down with the loss of fat/weight [be sure to check with your physician about proper medication dosing; don't do this yourself].
The more you think about health goals, link them to wealth goals. Keep reinforcing the link so that you change your thinking about your health to a savings plan or extra cash plan that works!
This may seem like a total contradiction of your learnings. Yet, think about it. How do you measure “better health”? Can you touch it, smell it, see it, hear it? Of course not.
A goal must be measurable so that you know you have improved. So, “achieving better health” can be stated as “I will lose one inch around my waist.” Waist measures are an indicator of abdominal fat, and abdominal fat is an indicator of increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and more. Taking this concept further, you can see that “losing one inch around my waist in the next 30 days” is a quantifiable goal, because it sets time (in 30 days), it sets quantity (1 inch) and it sets the overall achievement (lose waist girth—the measure around an object). In this case, you setting a goal that reduces risk, and may have rewards you hadn't thought of, such as better breathing since you lost some abdominal fat.
The next goal could be to improve drop saturated fat from your diet in order to lose even more body fat and to reduce the risk of heart disease further. Each goal builds on the one before, all headed to improving your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
You may think that your life is so full that you don't need one more thing to worry about. But, achievement comes with setting a goal and measuring your progress.
Dreaming and visioning can open new ideas for you; create new avenues for thinking. In order to make your dreams tangible and real, you must set goals that move you along the path leading to your goals. In this case, you've decided that you want to improve your health AND your wealth.
Set a goal that is challenging but doable. For instance, set the goal that you will walk one mile 3 times in the next week. You've set a challenging measure (walk 1 mile), one that is time-limited (in the next week), quantifiable (3 times in the next week). Once achieved, you don't go backwards, but you reset the goal to a higher, challenging and achievable measure: you will walk 1 mile in 15 minutes 4 times during the next week.
It builds on the first accomplishment, teaches you to keep improving, and gives you measurable indicators that you are accomplishing what you set out to accomplish.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|