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A Different Approach Toward Wellness Goals
Illinois Ag Connection - 01/10/2019

The new year is here, and many well-meaning individuals feel compelled to begin their fresh start by setting wellness goals. However, fewer than 10 percent of individuals who establish goals achieve them. To combat this statistic, many articles are published near or during the new year often with similar formulaic strategies toward successfully achieving goals. However, the goal of this Illinois State University article is to provide a different approach toward reaching your wellness goals by integrating mindfulness and some basic wisdom to ponder while pursuing your wellness goals.

The International Journal of Wellbeing found mindfulness capable of impacting an individuals' goals, enhancing their well-being, and promoting independence. With this in mind, let us explore some mindfulness concepts as it can apply to achieving wellness goals.

Acceptance -- Accepting everything about where you are in life right now is an important concept to internalize. This equates to allowing yourself to experience the present even if you are not pleased with it, including past experiences that brought you to where you are today. By placing yourself in a state of acceptance, you are actually empowering yourself to initiate change.

Nonjudging -- Part of accepting where you are in life is not judging yourself, especially if you are not happy where you are. Nonjudging is an opportunity for self-compassion, avoiding negative thoughts and language toward yourself. Shifting away from a negative self-dialogue opens the door toward the change you seek.

Observing -- In the process of self-compassion you can practice observing your thoughts. Negative thoughts will continue to come and go, but you do not have to own them. You can let go of negative thoughts. Visualizing the release of negative thoughts can be very helpful, whether it is visually placing the thought on a leaf and sending it down a stream, or releasing it into the air. With practice, this process can become a more natural response to negativity.

Overall, it is easier to make changes when we accept, do not judge, and observe, instead of getting pulled into a vortex of unproductive thoughts. It is within these simple practices we can become more disciplined and empowered as an individuals to meet the goals and the subsequent challenges they can bring forth.

Basic Wisdom includes:

Stress -- Stress is a part of life and can negatively impact the prefrontal cortex of the brain associated with strategizing, decisions, problem-solving, concentration, and our behavior. With this, how we respond to stress can impact our thoughts. If we address stress in a more mindful state, we are less likely to give way to negative thoughts which can extinguish aspirations, plans, ideas, and diminish our ability to act upon our goals. Staying mindful under stress and not identifying with negative thoughts will help you stay the course toward your goals and remain calmer in the process.

Enjoy the Journey -- A goal does not have to be a race to the finish line. In a society of quick fixes, human behavioral change does not apply. Sustainable behavioral change takes time, it is a process, a refining, and sometimes redefining to what is more true to who you are. There are many discoveries about yourself you can make along the way of working toward your goals, some of which may be challenging. However, it is within those challenges we can find the roots to our woes and mend them as we choose.

Recommitment -- The goals that can inspire us one day can often lose their luster on other days. Understand this is part of the process. Despite your waning inspiration on certain days, recommit each day to your goal, even if it's a simple small step. Those steps add up over time. Perhaps the original goal was not as realistic as you thought. It is OK to rework or scale back a goal, breaking it down into different or smaller pieces. Eventually, you will get there. What you achieve could be better than what you anticipated.

Defining the goal -- Wellness goals do not always have to be connected to losing weight or eating healthier. Wellness has so many different dimensions: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. Each of these dimensions contribute to our wellness and who we are as people. Often, simply choosing to work on one dimension can positively impact other dimensions, which is the beauty of the ripple effect.

Finally, be authentic in your wellness goal/s. When an individual is authentic with themselves while establishing wellness goals, the end product usually garners higher satisfaction and sustainability. Take a different approach to your wellness goal/s this year and enjoy the journey!

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