Between the coulds, shoulds and woulds when it comes to health and wellbeing, it can sometimes feel pretty overwhelming. We should do a daily Peloton workout, we could look into the merits of collagen supplements, we would get up at 5am for a pre-work run, but frankly, we don’t want to. Wellbeing is an amazing gift, but sometimes the rigidity of the advice we’re given can make it feel like more of a chore. So perhaps the increasing recognition of the power of ‘flexible goal setting’ is the solution.
We’ve changed our perspective
Now in many ways, this is a bit like common sense. However, for lots of us, there’s a need to structure our unstructured-ness in order to make things happen - does that make sense? The way the wellness industry is going, is that we all increasingly recognise that health and what works for us, is personal. It’s about a little and often rather than smashing it in the gym one day a week, and it’s also ok that your goals might not be the same as someone else’s.
“Our perspective on goals has changed due to the pandemic. Knowing the world can throw a wrench in our gears, we realise it’s important to remain open and flexible. Having a long list of micro-goals to choose from, rather than one big all-or-nothing resolution, can be beneficial for overall wellness.”
Brooke Scheller, a doctor of clinical nutrition and director of nutrition at Freshly told Forbes.
This isn’t just about being more realistic and feeling less stressed about wellness, but in changing our perspective it also tends to make us a little more realistic in our goals - aiming for steps rather than one big end achievement. It’s not to ditch the big wellness dreams, it’s just to break it down. She continued:
“Ultimately, micro-goals will end up being ones that people feel fully confident they can achieve—and of greater benefit to their health and wellness journey.”
A time and a place for flexible goal setting
Harvard Business Review has also weighed in on the topic in the past in relation to work goals (because frankly, this isn’t just about wellness goals, but our wider goals will have an impact on our wellness).
“It’s no surprise that most people report a strong preference for flexibility when it comes to choosing their goals. This is understandable when you consider that most of us aren’t actually very good at predicting our actions and behaviours. Adopting a somewhat elastic approach to setting goals allows us some future wiggle room.”
However, they extend the concept however, but talking about mixing rigid and flexible goals:
“But this same logic doesn’t apply when it comes to pursuing goals once we have set them. In fact, once people have set a goal, they are much more likely to complete it when the steps to achievement are set out in a rigid, restrictive way.”
Our take on flexible goal setting
How we interpret this is that it all comes down to what we can really manage. Maybe the goal is to do three hour-long workouts a week. Instead of saying they have to be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, just commit to the three. Then depending on what’s on, you can mix up when and what. Maybe it’s a run one day, an app workout in the living room on another. The wiggle room means you don’t feel like you’ve failed by Monday night if work runs late
Wellness is about lots of things. In some ways it’s about feeling good about how we look, but it’s mostly about simply feeling good, looking after our wellbeing and taking care of our health on lots of different levels. While it might be hard at times it should always be a space for enjoyment. Naturally, in our natural habitat - spas - it’s really all about enjoyment all of the time.
So, a little and often continues to be our mantra. On which note, post work evening spa day anyone?