Changing your habits will change your lifestyle

Lifestyle: change needs goals

Dipl. Oec. troph. Gisela Rutz

Everyone is free to change. If you are dissatisfied with yourself and your lifestyle, you should get yours Wishes and goals clearly show. Then the change will also succeed.

With a sigh, Frau Schlau falls into the armchair. Days like this one cost you all your strength: First the stress in the office, then the hectic shopping and climbing the stairs with the heavy bags and the whining children by the hand. After the fifth biscuit from the colorful package, she feels more relaxed. But she is not satisfied. Always this hectic pace and never time for yourself - that can't be healthy.

What actually is health? Or is the absence of illness enough to be healthy? The American-Israeli medical sociologist and founder of salutogenesis Aaron Antonovsky with the health-disease continuum offers an answer. A person is therefore not either healthy or sick, but rather moves towards the healthy or the sick pole. The decisive factor is the personal lifestyle that is shaped by habits. These have arisen through disposition, upbringing and role models and steer us towards illness or health.

Whether a person uses his potential to maintain health and wellbeing is obviously determined by his attitude towards life. Those who can absorb risk factors such as stress well, get sick less or heal faster. In this sense, health promotion means supporting people to get to know, use and develop their own strengths. Antonovsky calls this strengthening the sense of coherence. Anyone who assumes that it is worth coping with tasks and taking control of their fate has a strong sense of coherence. This is reflected in his lifestyle.

Change stuck

Mrs. Schlau looks dreamily into the garden. She would like to be fitter and slimmer. She knows that she needs to exercise more and eat more healthily. She has already tried dieting and jogging for this. But after a short time everything was back to normal. Finally the thought inevitably followed: "I can't do it". Disappointed, she then sought consolation over a piece of chocolate. How should anything ever change?

Behaviors are changeable - by anyone who really wants to. Bad habits, unsuitable role models or a difficult childhood leave their mark, but they do not commit us to a certain behavior for the rest of our lives. Because people have the freedom to change in all areas of life and to learn new things: for example in dealing with themselves and others or in eating, drinking and sports habits. Those who train their attention and are aware of their own habits get to know each other better. Looking at yourself and the world with realistic optimism helps change bad habits.

In a lecture on ways to change behavior, Ms. Schlau learns how important it is to realistically assess one's own abilities. She ponders: If I've managed to learn a trade and raise children, then I can also learn to be more careful with myself. Just because I didn't like sport in the past doesn't have to stay that way. I ask my friend how she managed to go to the gym on a regular basis.

Motivate positive feelings

In order to muster the energy to change behavior, self-motivation is required. The prerequisite for this is the firm conviction that something has to change and also the insight that you are responsible for your own lifestyle. It is helpful to be aware of the advantages of changing behavior and the disadvantages of staying the same. You should write down your thoughts on this. But that alone is not enough. If you imagine the new, this should always be combined with positive feelings. Because everything we learn and experience, we save with the feelings we feel about it. Joy urges you to repeat what you have learned; Pain leads to avoidance. So before changing your behavior, it is important to take the time to motivate yourself. Otherwise, all efforts remain just good resolutions or attempts that do not lead to success in the long run.

Clear goals help

In the days that followed, Ms. Schlau kept thinking about what she would gain by reshaping her life: "If I continue to eat unhealthily and do not move much, I could become seriously ill - my father has already had two heart attacks. I would then no longer be carefree my children play and may lose my job. If I change something, I would feel better. Then I finally dare to go on the long-awaited hiking holiday in the mountains with my family. Yes, I am responsible for my own life and I can to change."

Just as important as self-motivation is to be clear about your goals. Because these determine the future. Without clues as to what is to be achieved, other people guide their own path in life. The Roman philosopher Seneca already knew: "If you don't know the port, no wind is the right one for you." Once you have decided on the next port as the captain of your life, you have to work towards this goal with all your might. In order for good resolutions to become goals, it helps to be aware of your wishes and dreams. The social environment must also be taken into account. Who can help me? Can my goals be reconciled with the family? It makes sense to formulate the three most important goals with advantages and disadvantages and to record them in writing. A goal that is not clearly formulated remains a resolution that changes quickly depending on the mood.

The way to the goal

  • Get to know yourself better and be aware of your habits.
  • Approach the change with realistic optimism. What can you change? Which goal is attainable?
  • Write down the advantages you see in a change and the disadvantages of staying the same. Combined with emotions, this increases self-motivation.
  • State your goal clearly, unambiguously and positively. The best thing to do is to write it down and hang the piece of paper in a place in your apartment where it often catches your eye.
  • Changes are not continuous. A plateau reached is also a success. Be patient and learn from setbacks - they are part of life.

Ms. Schlau dreams of taking the stairs at a run without getting out of breath. She would like to look confidently to the future. Oh yes, she's wanted the mountain tour for a long time. And later she could change her career. She ponders: Where do I want to start? More exercise in everyday life could help you lose weight and reduce stress. Your goal is clear: "In the future, I don't want to be so comfortable and move around more." Ms. Schlau lets the sentence sink in, but it's powerless.

Change of behavior needs clear goals. So that the unconscious forces, which are significantly more effective than the conscious ones, also work in the desired direction, the target sentence should match the language of the subconscious. This means that the goal is formulated briefly, concisely and in the present. In addition, a target sentence must always be formulated positively, i.e. not without the words, none or without.

Progress takes patience

Ms. Schlau, discouraged, tells a friend that she doesn't feel strong enough to achieve her goal. The friend recommends to formulate the sentence positively and to bring it into a concrete picture. Together they correct the sentence: "I am fit and productive." Frau Schlau posts her goal to the refrigerator. She is enthusiastic about her inner image: from a mountain peak she looks out into the distance. She has managed to break free of her constricting comfort.

When the motivation has been clarified and the goal is formulated in a way that is appropriate for the brain, the first essential steps have been taken. After deciding on the goal, it is necessary to rise to action. There must be a willingness to learn from mistakes and to change methods or strategies until the goal is achieved. Changing behavior always requires patience with yourself. The 80-year-old Aikido master George Leonard recommends: "Say yes even to the unspectacular parts of your life. They are part of growth and account for the majority of all learning and development processes." The learning of skills follows the "curve of mastery": first there is a short phase of progress, then there is a relapse to a slightly lower level. We often stay on it for a long time, with the feeling that we are stepping on the spot. But constant practice is a prerequisite for further progress. Where others give up in frustration, successful people carry on. After failures or setbacks, they try again. This is how the new habit is consolidated. Those who successfully change their behavior are not only characterized by progress, but also by dealing with regression. When you feel like you can't go any further, you can say to yourself: "Another plateau, I continue to concentrate and patiently, at some point I'll jump to the next plateau."

Inspire success

Ms. Schlau begins to run full of vigor twice a week. After a while, she rarely succeeds. She ponders: is the goal wrong? No, your inner image still has power. She listens within herself. It would be easier for her with a walking group. The regular appointments, the community in the group and the reduced stress help her to overcome displeasure and tiredness. When planning her summer vacation a few months later, she feels well trained and finally wants to climb her mountain. The family is thrilled. After the successful mountain tour, Ms. Schlau sets new goals. She wants to become more confident and think about how best to achieve the new goal.

Anyone who realizes their goals through their own commitment experiences how success inspires. Those who take their life into their own hands and consciously shape it strengthen their well-being and ultimately improve the quality of life.

Online version of:

Rutz, G. UGB-FORUM 5/05, pp. 221-223



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