To be honest, I am not one for New Year’s resolutions; they always elude me and make me feel like I’ve failed myself. But what does work for me, and what I’d like to share with you today, is a way forward via simple reflection, calibration, and action.
Last week I came to you with the idea of ditching will-power for willingness in order to break down several barriers to health. In this article, I’d like to share a method I call “calibrating wellness” to help you break down even more barriers—most of all, by employing a simple, structured way to make and track progress.
Calibration with self-reflection and metrics
To calibrate means to adjust the results of something; in our case we will look to adjust the results of our current state of wellness. Calibration also involves taking into account various outside factors contributing to the results. Such factors can be environmental and include the behaviors of those around us.
Many of us feel stuck and unable to move forward in our health and wellness goals. I feel this way often with so much else on my very full plate. But I also realize that it’s a part of the human condition. But I’ve found that if you calibrate where you are — you can make a way forward and see progress as it unfolds.
Make a calibration chart
An easy way is to take the ideas you have about your health and wellness out of your mind and put them down on paper. Simply take a moment to really see yourself as you are now; not as you were or wish you are. Once you can do an honest assessment of your wellness state, make some lists. This will produce a calibration chart to work from.
Your list can begin with broad categories, like pain, disease, weight, sleep, mood, diet, exercise. Then you can list the specifics of each as they relate to you.
So, under pain you can list, for example, neck pain, tennis elbow, gout and so on, and place next to each where the pain falls on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst).
For disease you can list whatever you have been diagnosed with, such as migraine headaches, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and so on. Again, using a scale of 1-10 to indicate how these diseases affect your quality of life on average.
For weight you can use your actual weight as a number, and also your body mass index or waist to height ratio.
For mood, you can include things like depression, anxiety, worry, levels of felt or expressed happiness and joy. Again, rating them on a scale.
Sleep can be listed as insomnia, disturbed, insufficient and the hours of sleep can be a scale or the quality of sleep based on how well rested and refreshed you feel on waking.
Considering external factors
You may not realize how big a roll external factors play in your wellness. For example, if you can’t get enough sleep it may be related to noisy neighbors or too much light entering the bedroom or consumption of caffeine or alcohol within a few hours of bedtime. Even exercising after work can cause an inability to fall asleep quickly.
If you have daily headaches that come during the mid-day, perhaps external factors are involved. These can include fluorescent lights above your desk at work, too much stress in the office, drinking too much coffee during the morning to late morning. Another may be blood sugar issues from only consuming coffee and a bagel in the morning, or skipping lunch.
Additional external factors that come into play are the environment in which you live and work, which could be cold, damp, moldy, stressful; not to mention peer pressure from friends or relatives to eat or drink or stay out late. There are so many external factors that infringe on your quality of life. Spending some time thinking about them, listing them, and scaling them is a strong step toward reducing them and diminishing their negative influence.
It takes some thought, some notes, and some action but the results can be so rewarding and fulfilling. You just need to break down the barriers and have a willingness to move forward. That’s often easier said than done.
Where do you want to be?
Once you are able to make your calibration chart you will be able to see, in a snapshot, where you are in health and wellness. Reflecting on this chart can offer great insight into why your quality of life is where it is now, as many of the things we ignore or ‘forget about’ are no longer hiding. The metrics scales will help you see how each area is affecting you and how much room there is for improvement in each area. Looking over the external factors will perhaps be the most insightful, as these are the areas we least think about when trying to feel better, lose weight, or improve our quality of life. Many times the “stuckness” is rooted in external factors; there can’t be additional progress until they are resolved.
Can’t get ‘there’ from ‘here’
Now that you can see where you are and what is involved overall, it’s time to think about where you want to be. That is, how you envision yourself in each of the specifics within each category on the calibration chart. One thing that is essential for success, though, is being honest with what is actually possible within a given area. For example, if you have osteoarthritis and want your range of motion and pain to improve, shoot for a realistic goal. A 20% improvement can make a world of difference!
The next important concept is a phrase I learned from a business management book I read years ago. It went something like, “You can’t get there from here.” What this means is that you can’t reach greater goals and find success doing the same things you are doing now. And if you achieved some success up to this point, in weight loss for example, only to find yourself unable to “lose those last 10 pounds,” well something different needs to be done to achieve that.
With this concept in mind, action plans need to be made for each item on the calibration chart. You will see your success as you mark down weekly changes next to the starting scale numbers. And when one or more areas become “stuck” for a week or more, well then you may need to consider a different plan moving forward. Again, this change can sometimes be found in altering or controlling for external factors when then direct (internal) factors are accounted for.
There are so many articles on Easy Health Options® that offer terrific advice and plans for pain and inflammation, weight and diet, disease and issues with sleep, mind and body. So create your Calibration Chart, account for external factors, see where you want to be and how far you need to move, and spend some time reading the articles or consulting your health care professionals to help direct your way forward. Best of luck and be sure to have fun!