By Chuck Gillespie, CEO, National Wellness Institute

There is a great quote that typically gets attributed to Aristotle, but it was historian and philosopher Will Durant who simplified Aristotle’s quote to “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  This quote really breaks down the whole-person and systems approach needed to change behavior.  Let’s walk through the steps:

  • Analyze your daily activities and determine which routines are making you a better person and which ones could use a different path. Look at everything you do and add it to a checklist of positive and negative routines.  Do this for two to four weeks.
  • Determine which of your routines are things you are ready to excel in. Be authentic and self-aware of the habits you simply are not ready to change and move on to others.  We must be realistic about what we are ready to change and what we are not.
  • Once you have analyzed your routines and make determinations on what changes you want to make, then understand where and how you can make those changes.
    • Will your environment around you help or hinder this change in habit? For example, if you want to start to add a walk into your routines, do you have access to safe places to walk?  Also, would it be more sustainable to include others and walk with them so they can act as an accountability metric?
    • How can I communicate to others that I am making this change and how will they feel about it? Peer pressure can be your greatest asset or your biggest obstacle.
  • Analyze your changes and celebrate your successes.
  • Do everything you can to not allow the old routines to creep back in. This is especially hard if the environment around you is more conducive to your old habits.

What is being discussed above is a lot easier to explain than it is to put into practice.  Especially if you do not have a support network around you to make the shift.  But more importantly, this is where the root definition of wellness comes into the conversation.  To function optimally within your current environment requires analyzing current routines, determining what routines help or hurt our success, establishing goals to make change, understanding the roadblocks to achievement, and setting the right metrics to showcase success.

But the only way to create an environment that allows everyone, everywhere to reach a higher level of excellence is to shift the environment to be more conducive to optimal functioning.  And if we can achieve that, then our ability to help ourselves and others create better habits has a greater probability of sustainable success.