The Feedback Factor and the Habits of Health

05.28.21 |

Goals are an important part of any journey. Knowing where you want to go helps you plot the course and plan your voyage, but the challenge that many of us face is that our ultimate goals are very far from our current reality. If you want to run a marathon someday but get winded going up the stairs, the distance between you and what you want to achieve can start to feel impossibly vast. The immensity of the journey itself can overwhelm you and make you want to quit before you’ve even left the port.

Does that sound familiar?

If it does, you’re not alone. This is one of the many reasons why creating health is difficult for many of us. 

The Perfect Golf Swing

Here’s how you rise above this obstacle:

  1. Give yourself room and time to practice.
  2. Set smaller goals that build up to your bigger goals.
  3. Pause to celebrate your victories, especially the small ones.
  4. Get feedback on your journey.

To do the above, you need to reframe how you think about Habits of Health. You aren’t flipping a switch, going from Habits of Disease one day to Habits of Health the next. Instead, you are learning new skills, new behaviors, and new ways of seeing the world. Those things take practice and repetition, but they also take mindfulness and coaching.

In Your LifeBook, I tell the story of how I got to see pro-golfer Jack Nicklaus practicing on a course I visited. The full story is on page 251, but the short version is that Nicklaus spent hours practicing the same shot–a shot he was already very good at. He was practicing when I started a round of golf with a friend, and he was there when we got back.

Building Habits of Health is not so different from learning to make a shot in golf. The first several tries, you will feel clumsy and uncoordinated as you learn the mechanics and understand the basics of how the new skill works. Over time, you get more comfortable with the club. Your swing starts to feel more smooth. You start to observe your form and critique your execution so that you can get better and better.

And your progress will be faster if you have a teacher, someone giving you tips and feedback as you practice, which is why so many golfers take lessons.

Who is in your corner?

The part of the story for a pro like Nicklaus that many people forget is that he did not become an exceptional golfer purely from his own effort and talent. Every professional athlete is surrounded by a support network that helps to enable their success.

They have coaches. They have personal trainers. They have nutritionists. They have managers. They have family and friends cheering them on. Sometimes these individuals are just emotional support, but often they are providing advice and feedback and guidance.

No matter their in-born talent and physical gifts, no individual reaches their full potential entirely on their own. So, why would you force yourself to reach your health goals by yourself?

It’s not fair to you or what you want to achieve. You deserve to have a coach in your corner and supportive people around you, helping you learn from your choices and giving you the encouragement you need to continue growing even in the face of adversity. This feedback and this behavioral reinforcement is incredibly powerful, and you should make it a part of your journey today if you haven’t already.