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Appreciating Missteps - the Secret to Lasting Change

Did you ever set out to make a healthy lifestyle change and then find yourself back in the same old rut? What if I share a little-known secret to getting yourself back on track? Appreciate the misstep. That moment when your best intentions got derailed. Pat yourself on the back. Yell "yay me!" Go all out!

We'll talk about why this is such a great idea in just a moment. Meanwhile, let's stop and make a short list of things you might have been trying to do:

  • Improve your posture at the computer
  • Eliminate grains from your meal planning
  • Be in bed with the lights out by 10 pm each night
  • Develop a consistent exercise program
  • Devote 10% of your weekly food budget for emergency storage items
  • Drink healthy beverages instead of pop

Yep! The appreciation trick will work for all of these changes and more. What's at the top of your personal list right now? Go ahead and pick ONE change to keep in mind as you read the rest of this article.

There are five main steps in successfully making any lifestyle change. The same five steps will work for any of the items on our list above:

  1. Clearly state your desired outcome, preferably in the form of an affirmation.
  2. Begin the new behavior
  3. Notice when your ongoing behavior doesn't match the program
  4. Communicate to yourself about what you've noticed
  5. Get back on track

We've talked about some of these steps in the past. We'll talk about them more in the future. Today's post is about step #4. What do you say to yourself when you notice you've gotten off track?

Let's say your goal is improving posture when you sit at the computer. Everything's moving along smoothly and then you notice you're hunched forward, typing feverishly, and your neck is starting to hurt. What's the first thing that pops into your head?

No matter the goal, you will be most successful if your "little voice" says some version of the following: "This is great! Good for you, Charlie! You noticed you've gotten off track and THEREFORE you now have the opportunity to get back on."

Does that sound like you? Or are you more typically in this camp: "Geez, Samantha, you're an idiot. You can't even do a simple thing like sitting up straight in a chair. You are such a loser!!"

See, you won't get anywhere beating yourself up. All you'll do is get mad and frustrated and stop trying. Instead, work on increasing your awareness. The more frequently you notice when you've gotten off track, the more frequently you press that mental "reset" button, the more successful you will be.

Better yet, each time you "reset," your success will last a little longer. Before you know it, you will have developed the very habit that once seemed out of reach. It will have become the new normal. And when that awareness strikes, you can REALLY hold a "yay me" party!!

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Elizabeth Eckert can help you explore how simple everyday choices create health — or undermine even the best of intentions. With a background that ranges from energy medicine to structural bodywork to developmental psychology, this "Stick-To-It Coach" has the experience to support you in creating the healthiest possible expression of — you!

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Elizabeth Eckert, Healthy Living & Wellness Coach

Elizabeth Eckert, PhD

I enjoy observing human nature and helping people be healthy. I'm author of Word Cures and creator of the WordCures.com healthy living website. (more)

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Note: The information and ideas offered here are personal opinions of a general nature. No opinion posted here constitutes medical advice, either general or personal. If you have a health concern, please consult with your medical doctor and follow his or her advice. The author disclaims responsibility for any misuse or misinterpretation of any opinion posted here.

(c) 2006-09 Elizabeth Eckert


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