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 Set Goals for the Changes You Want to Make 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Simply Well by . View all columns in series

6. Determine the length of time that you will work on this goal. An hour? A day? Two weeks? And decide how often you will check your progress and when you will reevaluate your goal. For example:

For the next three days I will get up a half-hour earlier each morning and take a vigorous twenty-minute walk before having breakfast. I will evaluate my progress (how I felt during the walk; how that exercise affected my overall energy throughout the day) on the evening of the third day and decide then whether I will continue the walks.

7. Keep encouraged by always congratulating yourself for any advances you?ve made, no matter how small. Remember, the bigger your goals, the bigger the challenge and the greater the likelihood that you will have setbacks. That's a normal part of growing and changing. Maintain a nonjudgmental attitude toward yourself for what you have not yet accomplished and honor yourself for what you have done.

8. Work on only one or, at most, two goals at a time. When you have established them as natural parts of your lifestyle, then move on to other goals.

Setting Goals for Life
At the same time that you are building your self-mastery by working on short-term goals, it is very helpful to map out a bigger picture for yourself?a plan for your life and health for years into the future. The following exercise will guide you in this process.

1. Take four blank sheets of paper. Head them as follows: 1) Where/how I want my life and health to be five years from today; 2) Where/how I want my life and health to be two years from today; 3) Where/how I want my life and health to be six months from today; and 4) How I would spend the next six months if I knew for sure they would be my last.

As you work on these lists, be creative. Ask yourself: "What would I have/do/be if I had no limitation (like time, money, or job responsibilities)?" Work on each sheet as quickly as possible, taking no more than fifteen minutes for each.

2. Read over all you have written and look for goals that are repeated or strongly expressed. These will be your priorities.

3. Put the exercise aside for a few days and then repeat Step 1. Compare the results, looking for the goals that were clearly priorities in both writings. This exercise helps you ascertain your values and plan the next steps in your life journey.

4. Focus on one or more of your strongest goals and create a Road Map-a series of action steps that will bring your dream into form within the desired time frame. For example: If your goal is to have a significantly stronger body in two years, write down the preliminary steps you will need to take to gather the necessary resources and information to start this. Taking a trip to the library to get a book on nutrition or making a phone call to a local gym might be a good beginning here.

If you already know how to go about getting what you want, simply list the action steps and a schedule. For example, write down what type of exercise program you will use and when you will start it; what modification you will make to your diet and when and how you will do this; and so on.

5. Plan for frequent reviews and reevaluations to ensure that your steps are realistic and to keep yourself encouraged along the way.

6. Share your goals with friends and invite their support in helping you stay on task, or join a support group that has similar goals. Creating a support network is invaluable to your journey. In fact, it may be essential.

For anything to make a
difference in a person's life,
an insight must be followed up by action.
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 About The Author
John W. Travis, MD, MPH, is the creator of the Wellness Inventory and its parent, the Wellness Index. He is the founder and co-director of ...moreJohn Travis MD, MPH
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