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Stick to your well­ness goals with these tips from life coach Aimee Barnes Pes­tano

Stick to your well­ness goals with these tips from life coach Aimee Barnes Pes­tano

You started the year want­ing a “sys­tem re­boot”: break­ing bad habits, start­ing healthy rou­tines and find­ing bal­ance in your mind, body and spirit. But now that we are al­ready in the month of July, you find that you haven’t made much progress. You are not alone. “The most com­mon mis­take peo­ple make when it comes to cre­at­ing res­o­lu­tions that stick is that they at­tempt to com­mit to a lofty, ill-de­fined goal right out of the gate, rather than break­ing it down into re­al­is­tic, well-de­fined and eas­ily di­gestible chunks,” ob­serves Sin­ga­pore-based life coach Aimee Barnes Pes­tano, founder of Tan­gram Well­ness. Her ad­vice? Break down the “big” goal into ac­tion steps, write down each step on a Post-it note, and stick them onto a poster board in a lin­ear fash­ion. When a par­tic­u­lar step is mas­tered, re­move the Post-it. Work­ing with a be­hav­iour change spe­cial­ist or join­ing an ac­count­abil­ity group can also be in­valu­able in stay­ing the course. Ac­count­abil­ity is per­haps the sin­gle most crit­i­cal fac­tor for suc­cess. Pes­tano ex­plains, “Develop a sys­tem for check­ing in with your­self. I would rec­om­mend do­ing so at the end of each week. Ev­ery few months, con­sider al­lo­cat­ing an en­tire 24 hours for ‘monk mode’. Hole up alone some­where—a bare-bones ho­tel room, silent re­treat or tent in the woods—with no elec­tron­ics. Re­view your goals and tra­jec­tory with a crit­i­cal eye. Jour­nal ideas, doo­dle thought bub­bles and mind maps, ask your­self tough ques­tions, and leave with an up­dated plan, con­crete ac­tion steps, and a clear vi­sion.” Here are Pes­tano’s tips to achiev­ing your well­ness goals.

1 Be­gin with a re­flec­tion. Fold a pa­per length­wise. In one col­umn, write down what gets in the way of your goals—you’ll need a clear pic­ture of your ob­sta­cles. Be bru­tally hon­est. If you’re aim­ing to lose weight, you might write, “My friends al­ways invite me out for dinner and drinks, and not only do I end up go­ing, but I al­ways or­der the cheesi­est dish on the menu, wash it down with two mar­gar­i­tas, and then tear into a bag of chips when I get home be­cause I

feel so ashamed”. In the sec­ond col­umn, write what you’ll need to do dif­fer­ently for each item. For in­stance, “I’m only go­ing to ac­cept in­vi­ta­tions for dinner with my friends twice a month, and I will thought­fully choose what to eat by Googling the restau­rant menu be­fore­hand. I’m im­ple­ment­ing a zero al­co­hol pol­icy for the next two months be­cause I al­ways overeat when I drink. And I’m go­ing to a hire a per­sonal trainer to keep me ac­count­able.”

2 Re­view your orig­i­nal goals once more us­ing a SMARTER check­list. Are your goals: Spe­cific, Mea­sur­able, Achiev­able, Rel­e­vant, Time-bound, Eval­u­ated on a Reg­u­lar Ba­sis, and Re­warded? The last two are im­por­tant: es­tab­lish your reg­u­lar check in and “monk mode” days, and write these on your cal­en­dar. Re­ward your­self reg­u­larly for wins. For in­stance, if you man­aged to write ev­ery day for 30 days straight, you might want to gift your­self a fancy new pen or a lux­u­ri­ous mas­sage.

3 Fig­ure out how you can al­ter your en­vi­ron­ment to sup­port you. For ex­am­ple, if you’re try­ing to quit drink­ing, re­move all the al­co­hol at home and take a dif­fer­ent route home if you’re prone to stop­ping at the lo­cal bar.

4 En­list sup­port. Join or form an ac­count­abil­ity group, hire a coach or a per­sonal trainer or en­rol in a class. You might also con­sider putting some money on the line through an anti-char­ity sys­tem, where you agree to do­nate a cer­tain painful dol­lar amount to a char­ity or cause you de­test if you cheat on your goals or res­o­lu­tions, and then post the do­na­tion in­for­ma­tion on your Face­book page. One app, Stikk (, can help you do this.

5 Stop beat­ing your­self up! We all slip up on our goals—that’s a nor­mal part of the process. Dust your­self off, get back on the horse and con­tinue on­ward, my friend.

The Sin­ga­pore Dance Theatre’s 30th an­niver­sary gala per­for­mance sees the com­pany pre­miere of Goh Choo-san’s Con­fig­u­ra­tions, along­side other works FULL OF GRACE

LEAD THE WAY Aimee Barnes Pes­tano is a cer­ti­fied health, life and re­cov­ery coach spe­cial­is­ing in re­silience, rein­ven­tion and per­sonal en­ergy man­age­ment

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