How to challenge yourself and succeed

by Fanny Vandenhende, Naturopath N.D.
It’s that time of year again. The hour of the well-intentioned New Year’s resolution. Here are some helpful tools to help you reach your goals.

1) Surround yourself

People often think that to succeed in changing long-lived lifestyles, they have to go it alone. Yet the more you ask for help, the more you increase your chances of success.

There are people who have likely already taken up the challenge you’re now embarking on. Ask them for advice or to share their experiences, and learn from them. The suggestions they provide will save you a bit of time, and maybe even a lot. Most people are happy to share their stories, and will feel valued knowing that you’re heeding their advice.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your goals to whoever will listen. The more you do it, the more people will be willing and able to support you when the time comes. When those around you better understand your challenges and motivations, they’re better equipped to find the right words and actions to encourage you in your process of transformation.

Not to mention, people around you may want to jump on board when you tell them about your experience. Rallying your efforts will help you succeed, no matter what you’re out to achieve.

2) To each their own challenge

No challenge is better than another. Everyone has their own reasons for challenging themselves, whether it’s to improve their mental or physical health, or to change one particular aspect of their lives. When you challenge yourself, it becomes harder to take life and all that it provides for granted, and it can make you feel more alive sometimes too.

The most important thing is that it comes from you, not from others, and that the necessary terms and conditions of your challenge can easily be put into practice. It is necessary to find the right circumstances when undertaking any significant change. Of course, some require more time and effort than others. An overload of stress and preoccupation will not be conducive to positive change.

The time you set aside for achieving your goals must also be realistic and proportional to the level of difficulty of your challenge. It often takes time to change a well-established behaviour, but it takes less and less effort as you progress. At the start, give yourself a trial period, a temporary commitment of sorts, being sure not to aim so high you get discouraged. It should take at least three weeks for your new behaviour to become habit. Once the trial period is complete and you look back on it, you’ll be proud of all the work you did and more motivated to continue.

Prepare yourself

3) Prepare yourself

In order to stack the odds in your favour and successfully accomplish your challenge, it’s important to be well prepared. Identify your goals and spell them out. Only fulfilling the changes you desired is not enough. One tends to see what one will lose rather than what one will win. Place yourself in various scenarios and imagine the obstacles you might face before determining how you might overcome them. Lack of preparation can be one of the reasons you give up on a challenge. Projection also allows for better awareness of what awaits you, because yes, sometimes you’ll experience failure, and you’ll definitely encounter difficulty. However, if you’re aware of all the possibilities before you begin, it’ll be easier to accept failure, and this is where you’ll find success.

4) It’s the intention that counts

Achieving your goals is rewarding, but the path that leads you there is just as important. Getting there can inspire a lot of pride and teach us a lot about ourselves. The trial period takes a ton of effort. You will be discouraged and deviate from your goals. These failures need to be seen as a normal step in the process of creating change, since it’s rare to achieve one's goals on the first try. Allow yourself a margin of error. Taking a step back to observe the path you’ve traveled makes it possible to relativize and dispel any guilt felt during a slip-up. The desire to change an aspect of one's life is, in itself, a courageous act.

Supervision by a health professional can also help you achieve your goals. They can guide you, support you, and give you any extra confidence you need to get to where you’re going.

Here’s to your challenges!

Fanny Vandenhende, Naturopath N.D.
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Fanny Vandenhende, Naturopath N.D.

Fanny Vandenhende, naturopath ND, is passionate about naturopathy, an alternative medicine that aims to restore health through natural methods. A graduate of ÉESNQ (École d’enseignement supérieur de naturopathie du Québec), she is currently continuing her training and also practicing at the Clinique Mille Mains, found in the Montreal neighbourhood of Villeray.

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