Yesterday I spoke to 200 parents at Target HQ on the topic of raising health children. It’s a talk I’ve given dozens of times in the last year. But this time it was different. I had an insider.
My wife works for Target. She received a ton of feedback and questions most of which centered around getting started and putting these ideas into practice.
The talk is centered around chemical, physical, and emotional stresses that are having a devastating effect on our childrens’ health. When I share the statistics of how sick our children have become, it’s not a giant leap for attendees to understand things have to change.
The overwhelming part is most in attendance realize a lot of things need to change if they are going to give their kids the best chance to grow up healthy. Some even beat themselves up for things they’ve already done that have been compromising their kid’s health. So two things need to be addressed here. First, if you chunk it down and make conscious, small, gradual changes over time it’s easy to implement these changes. Second, we all do the best with the information we have at the time. Thankfully we are exposed to new knowledge (my talk) and we can alter our course based on better information. There is absolutely no benefit to beating yourself up over choices you made in the past.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today”. It’s not about the choices that were made in the past. It’s about taking what you’ve learned and systematically implementing it into your lives. Here are some tips to make that easier
1. Determine what changes will have the biggest impact on your life. Make a list of all the changes that you would like to make over the next 12 months. Then pick one item from the list. It should be the game changer, the one item that will make the biggest impact.
2. Write it down. If it’s not written it doesn’t exist. This list must be written. The game changer should be circled, highlighted, underlined, and starred. And it should be in a place you see it often. Under or around the game changing change you’ve made add at least 3 measurable actions that need to be done to accomplish this goal. And give each of these actions a trigger. A trigger is something you do immediately before you do the action step. For example, if the goal is to “Eat at home 5 nights a week with the family” an action step might be to sit down Saturday morning and prepare a meal plan and the trigger would be after cleaning up after breakfast. So now every Saturday after you clean up after breakfast, you will sit down and make a meal plan for the week.
3. Write down why you are making this change. The more personal the better. If you’ve written down something that gives you a visceral response when you read it, you’ve nailed it.
4. The changes should be small. Once you nail them, choose another game changer from the list you created. Set yourself up for success. Once it’s a habit (66 days) you can make it more difficult.
5. Show your work. Let others know what you will be changing and then submit your work. Tell a friend, tell coworkers, or tell all of social media that you will be doing x,y,z. And weekly or monthly let them know how you’re doing. I use the app Way of Life which is a simple tracking device that you can export data to share with others.
There are hundreds of resources out there of those who have done this already. Countless shortcuts and hacks have been developed to make the process easier and with a little research you can find the plan that works best for you. Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. So go! And let me know how much better your life has become.