We all know New Year resolutions don’t work.
Some people speculate that it’s because we share the resolutions with other people. When we say it out loud, and our ears hear our grand plans, it gives our brain a small hit of dopamine, the drug responsible for the reward circuitry in our brain, which reduces our perceived reward in the future, making us less likely to pursue the goal.
Perhaps we approach health in a similar fashion when we tell our friends we are going to go to the gym more, lose the weight we didn’t lose in 2019, or climb the highest mountain in Washington — which is Mt. Rainier, at more than 14,000 feet, in case you were wondering.
Some of the newest research points to the fact that most of our health goals are individual, and lack the sense of community we, as humans, need to keep us inspired, accountable and effective at realizing our goals.
It’s this sense of community, which can be as few as two people, that allows people to do more as a group than on an individual level. This is the essence of synergy, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and might just be the catalyst you need to get the results you want.
Here are three ideas for making 2020 your healthiest year on record.
Group fitness has become a fast-growing industry that provides an opportunity to create a community around exercise. Perhaps the best example we have in recent memory is Crossfit. For all the bad we often associate with Crossfit, they have one of the strongest fitness communities in the world — no pun intended — with some of the strongest and most fit humans in the world.
The takeaway from this Crossfit example, is that for most people it helps to work on your fitness goals with someone else. The more unfit you are, the harder it will be to change your old ways and start new habits.
Find someone, or several people, who want similar fitness/activity goals, and start working toward your goals together. Make it fun by making it a game. If you’re a competitive person, even better. Put some money on the line and skin in the game. Anything that gets the group interested will help grease the grooves for the necessary work to be done.
It’s not easy, but changing how you eat can be done, and should be done with the people who you eat with at home. Food is tied to the deepest and most primitive part of our brain associated with survival, and so underestimating what it will take to change your eating habits is a poor mistake, and you’ll need all the help you can get.
Most people think that hiring a nutritionist is about having someone tell you what food to eat, which isn’t wrong, but most of the value of working with a professional is in forming the all important community (two or more people) that is often needed to overcome the difficulty of changing deep-seeded, unhealthy habits.
The takeaway from the nutritionist example, is to make light work with many hands. Changing your diet is very hard; maybe too hard for one person to do alone. If you’ve tried and failed, all hands on deck is what’s needed if you want to succeed, including your family, who might have to make some small sacrifices for your ultimate health and wellbeing.
Mental Health Goals
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” is a quote famously canned by Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker who was born in Yakima, Washington.
If you want to influence your mental habits, and improve your mental health, it’s critical to take a look at the people you spend time with, because they have a high level of potential influence, and your willpower to overcome their influence has limits. Possibly more than any other lifestyle modification, how you think is one of the hardest to complete.
The takeaway from the Jim Rohn quote, is that you can use the power of community synergy to influence your thoughts and mental habits. From social media use, to positive thinking, to raising your intellectual stimuli, you can seek out communities and individuals who can pull you into a different stratosphere of thought.
Six steps to achieve your health goals with people power
1. Begin by writing down one health goal.
2. Make sure the goal is specific, measurable and has a deadline.
3. Pick 3-5 people who can help you achieve that goal.
4. Meet with these people at definite intervals throughout the year to work toward your goal together, review your progress, share ideas, get inspiration, etc.
5. Track your progress, share your concerns and celebrate your victories.
6. Enjoy the process.