Looking Back to Move Forward

As we end another trip around the sun, it makes sense to think about where we've been and where we're headed.

If you want to be a healthier person this year, start living like a healthier person now. A thinner person? Eat like a thin person now. A kinder, gentler person? Start with the next words that come out of your mouth.

3 Questions to Answer Now

What did I do last year that I'm proud of?

Everything from having a baby to painting your bathroom counts. What matters is that you feel a sense of accomplishment because that feeling will motivate you to take on another challenge.

What did I learn about myself last year?

Some say that if you aren't failing, you aren't learning. So this question really is "what did I fail at last year?" The lessons we learn from the mistakes we make are valuable because they reveal the real opportunity for change.

An all-or-nothing approach to a healthy diet reveals an issue that needs to be understood. 

After eating "perfectly" for a few days, do you "reward" yourself with something unhealthy like sugar, alcohol or junk food, sabotaging any real progress toward better health.

Maybe a friend or family member is critical of your efforts to improve yourself, fearful of being left behind. Which brings us to...

What am I willing to leave behind?

Have you ever done this: packing a suitcase to return home from a vacation, you realize that because you did some shopping, there isn't enough room to take everything you came with so you leave some things behind. You choose what's useless or weighing you down: magazines & books you read on the beach, that old pair of shoes that you replaced, maybe even some toiletries you can do without. Certainly that bathrobe you hoped was complimentary (it never is).

What will you leave behind in 2016?

Habits that make you feel worthless, people who bring you down, chronic complaining and certainly the fear of being in better health than anyone else you know.

Diet soda? Out.

Beer? No.

Fast food? Gone.

You really can say goodbye to things in your life that are hurting you, leaving room to welcome new habits, new people and new foods that nourish you.

Any voyage requires a glance or two in the rear view mirror from time to time. But real progress is made when you focus on your destination.

Here's an exercise that will help you focus on the good things.

Each month write down something you did that you're proud of, a place you visited for the first time or a great new recipe you mastered. Write down a meaningful experience you had with someone important to you. Toss the note into a jar on your desk and at the end of the year read them as you celebrate yet another miraculous trip around the sun a year from now.