Gratitude and goal setting come hand in hand and now play a unique role in improving our overall health.
Gratitude, the quality of being thankful as well as possessing a readiness to share more appreciation for the people around us, places we visit or simple things, is a simple practice we can cultivate on a daily basis.
Goal setting involves the development of an action plan designed to motivate and inspire us to move towards a desired outcome or achievement.
Put simply, the practices of both gratitude and goal setting can enrich your health and can put you on the path to reaching your goals, whatever they may be!
So what are the benefits of cultivating more gratitude?
Gratitude is all about taking time each day to think about the positives in your life. This doesn’t mean ignoring the negatives and turning a blind eye to them but simply giving yourself the choice to reframe your perspective and choosing to focus on the positives. By bringing awareness to the positives you can better diffuse negative thought patterns and behaviours that activate many positive physical and mental health benefits such as;
- Increased positive emotions and behaviours such as happiness, joy, appreciation, patience and empathy for others
- Fewer toxic emotions such as envy, resentment or regret
- Enhanced satisfaction, presence and resilience with less of a need to focus on materialistic things
- Better sleep
- Improved blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar control
It’s no surprise really that gratitude can touch all areas of our life and by implementing a regular practice we are able to show a deeper appreciation for almost everything in our lives.
What are you grateful for today?
For example, there are external things that we usually head towards when asked what we’re grateful for - a roof over our head or our friends' and families' health. These are definitely important for sure but when you practice gratitude enough, you will be able to find EVEN MORE to be grateful for. An ongoing practice fuels more gratitude in our lives and once you find yourself in a place of gratitude you will notice it begins to flow - the home you created for yourself that makes you feel safe and comfortable, your ability to think on your feet in stressful situations or your comforting nature when a close friend reaches out for help.
A daily practice then also fuels our resilience and our ability to get through difficult situations with strength, courage and determination. Gratitude also allows us to manage stress and strong emotions, promoting a relaxed state of being - joy really is the medicine to stress and soothes our heart and mind in times of need and well beyond.
So what are the health benefits of goal setting?
Setting goals takes us towards an idea of the future or a desired result, that we envision, plan and commit to achieve. It helps us direct and focus our thoughts, especially at times when we are overwhelmed with our daily to-do lists whether at home or at work. This is where setting SMART goals can really help us cultivate a higher sense of purpose that will not only benefit us individually but also the people we care about around us.
The tricky part is, that many people start with goals too big and then experience massive disappointment when they find them slipping away. Think New Year's resolutions - how often do they really work for people? It’s not often that a large goal wasn’t achievable, not by any means, and we should always be aiming high. But more because the large goals lack structure and accountability a person needs to reach them.
A successful goal-setting practice requires;
- Long term vision
- Scheduling, planning and direction
- Short-term motivation and consistency in your plan
- Accountability and guidance throughout the process
- Your commitment
So how do you actually put a practice into practice?
Long-term vision - You can use a vision board or simply write your overall goal on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you’ll see it often
Scheduling, planning and direction - it’s vital you set ‘mini goals’ to track your progress and make the larger goal feel more manageable. These will then serve as landmarks along your journey - what steps can you make daily or monthly to move forward in line with your goal? These could simply be weekly goals that you set yourself
Short-term motivation - Think about how you can stay motivated along your journey? Instead of turning to a usual reward of food or treats, this is where gratitude can come in! Take note of how you feel physically and mentally - let those feelings serve as a reminder of how you are progressing and how far you have actually come. These things go a long way in realising how great you’ll feel when you reach your end goal!
Accountability and guidance - Don’t be hard on yourself, you're bound to hit obstacles that set you back but that’s where friends, family or a Coach can play a huge role in your success. Don’t be afraid to share your journey with others - you may actually be surprised with how valuable support along the way can keep you motivated especially during those challenging times.
Commitment and consistency - Here is where the magic happens! Staying focused on the present moment gives you the opportunity to look for positives in the now. It’s important to remind yourself each day of the positive elements of the journey you are on.
As you can see, goal setting doesn’t just set up a structure for you, but it also triggers new behaviours and pathways in the brain for you to choose to focus on different thoughts and for you to think differently! These kinds of small daily adjustments go a huge way in promoting mental health as it helps us break down challenges into digestible pieces that can be applied to every aspect of our lives. The focus and determination needed on a short and long-term basis help us align our focus and empower us to conquer all that we want to achieve!
One thing to remember along the way, we will all have different ways of implementing gratitude and goal-setting routines that work for us but overall the same principle applies. By combining the two practices we can feel in control of our own wellness journeys, improving our relationships, careers and ultimately our happiness every day.