Stuck in a rut? Not feeling physically fit? Looking for better ways to improve your fitness and overall health? Not sure how to get started? Create a map that helps you discover specific areas for improvement.
Start by thinking of your existing networks. You have a network of immediate and extended family members; a social network of friends and acquaintances; a career network of colleagues and partners; a volunteer network; an extracurricular network of people involved in any sports, exercise, hobbies and other activities you engage in; a health and wellness services providers network that may include your physician, dentist, therapist, fitness professionals and others. The list goes on. These are just some of the categories or spheres of influence and individuals you come into contact with on a regular, semi-regular or occasional basis.
In the business world, influence is typically defined as the ability to effect change in the action, beliefs, and choices of others. When it comes to influence, we tend to think of how we can influence others to get what we want. It takes self-reflection, awareness and an openness to change to think in terms of how we can consciously allow others to influence us so that we can improve ourselves. As the expression goes, it takes a village to raise a child. My experience of personal transformation and working with others on their transformations suggests that, for many people, it takes a village to embrace and stick with a healthy lifestyle in the long term.
There are many people who can contribute to your success by being positive role models in one way or another. They may each possess various characteristics or demonstrate behaviours that you find inspiring or that you can use as helpful tips. The people in your life may be influencers, doers, shapers, and potential ‘teachers.’ They don’t have to be celebrities or exceptional. Ordinary people can have a profound impact.
Start by writing down each group or network, then write down a few names, let’s say two or three, in each group. Next to each person’s name, write down at least one strength, skill, behaviour or knowledge asset that person has demonstrated which you think could help you work towards your fitness and wellness goals. For example, under “Social network,” you list your best friend John, your good friend Sue, and your acquaintance Sam. You’ve noticed time and again that John is very punctual. You like that Sue is emotionally supportive and that Sam seems like a real go-getter.
Next, you can drill down into this map by identifying how the qualities you identified in others can help you move forward with your goals. How, for example, can you apply punctuality – which you noticed in your friend John – to yourself? Can you think of times when you could benefit from being more punctual than you typically are? Do you miss out on exercise classes you meant to attend because you’re often running late and can’t seem to get there on time? What can you do to improve in that area? Write down at least one action item such as “Set watch back ten minutes.”
Similarly, how can the emotional support that you get from Sue become something you derive from yourself? Sue isn’t always around. What can you do to give yourself understanding, kindness, honesty and caring? If you mess up your diet, can you forgive yourself and move forward in a positive manner rather than feel disappointed with yourself and give up? Your action item might be to write a positive affirmation that you can refer to when you have a moment of self-doubt.
Sam is a go-getter. He doesn’t just talk about doing things, he does them. Are you like Sam? Are you able to make a plan and follow through, or do you give up easily? What action item or strategy would be useful? If you’re unsure, ask Sam for advice.
Observe or directly ask for guidance. While it may feel awkward at first, an email, phone call or face-to-face conversation is a great way to learn and improve. Will people be receptive to your questions? There’s only one way to find out. The worst that can happen is they don’t return your call. But most people would be flattered if they were approached for advice.
After you flesh out your map’s groupings into individuals and their qualities, you’ll have dozens of positive ideas to explore and potentially apply to yourself.