Why the Focus on Goals, Strategy, Action?
“The most heart-rending symbol of America’s failure in healthcare,” writes Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times, “is the avoidable amputations that result from poorly managed diabetes… A toe, foot or leg is cut off by a doctor about 150,000 times a year in America.”
Omigoodness! This has got to stop!!
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
And, Behavior is a miracle drug for health.
We all need to make a goal of health and enact behavioral strategies to achieve this goal. How long we live and how well we live are primarily governed by the choices we make each day. To truly change our health, along with the power of life-saving drugs and technologies, we must focus on the strength of life-transforming habits within each of these foundational behaviors. Because while healthcare is episodic, health itself is continuous. Harvard economist Raj Chetty has discovered that behaviors such as eating habits, exercise, and smoking affect our life expectancy even more than access to healthcare. In other words, health is what happens between doctor visits.
There are five foundational daily behaviors that, together, make up this miracle drug: sleep, food, movement, stress management, and connection. Because science is precise when we improve these daily aspects of our lives, dramatic improvements in our health and well-being follow. The breakthroughs this can bring in our health aren’t over the horizon—they’re here right now.
Focusing on goals, strategy, and action towards these foundational behavioral strategies is fundamental to success (in various aspects of life, whether health, personal development, business endeavors, or any other pursuit.) Let's break down each component:
- Goals: Goals provide the direction and purpose for your efforts. They define what you want to achieve and serve as a clear target to work towards. Effective goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). When setting goals, consider both short-term and long-term objectives. Whether your goals are related to personal growth, career advancement, health, or any other area, they should inspire and motivate you to take action.
- Strategy: A strategy outlines your plan or approach to achieve your goals. It's a deliberate and well-thought-out roadmap that guides your actions coherently and organized. A solid strategy takes into account your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). It also considers the resources you have available, the timeline for achieving your goals, and potential obstacles that might arise. Your strategy should align with your goals and help you make informed decisions along the way.
- Action: Action involves putting your plans into motion. It's the practical implementation of your strategy to progress towards your goals. Taking consistent and purposeful movement is crucial for achieving success. Break down your strategy into smaller, manageable steps and prioritize them based on their impact and feasibility. Regularly review your progress and adjust your actions as needed. Overcoming procrastination and maintaining discipline are essential for effective action.
Here's a simplified process to apply the "Focus on Goals, Strategy, Action" approach:
- Set Clear Goals: Identify and define your specific goals using the SMART criteria.
- Develop a Strategy: Create a strategic plan that outlines the steps, resources, and timeline needed to achieve your goals. Consider potential challenges and how to overcome them.
- Take Consistent Action: Execute your strategy by taking regular and purposeful actions. Break down your strategy into actionable tasks and work on them consistently.
- Monitor and Adjust: Track your progress and assess whether you're moving towards your goals. If needed, adjust your strategy or actions based on the feedback and results you're getting.
- Stay Motivated: Maintain your motivation by regularly reminding yourself of the importance of your goals. Celebrate small victories along the way to keep your enthusiasm high.
Remember that flexibility is essential. Circumstances may change, and you might need to adapt your strategy or modify your goals. The key is staying focused, adaptable, and working towards your aspirations.