This month’ article is about something that has come up a lot recently in my conversations and chats with clients: health ownership. Can I talk a little about it, can I help people to understand they have more control over their health than they might think? And I do believe this is the case for many of us. We don’t necessarily feel empowered or able to make a significant difference. We are often overwhelmed by external stresses. But I also believe we have a great deal of autonomy and influence in terms of our fitness, health and wellbeing, as well as the outcomes that derive from this.
To really begin taking ownership of our health, we must start at the finish line. What is your endgame? What are you looking to obtain? I’m going to use my own goal as an example here, which is longevity – specifically, longevity of health span. So, I’d like to live as long as possible in as healthy a state as possible. That doesn’t mean getting to say, 104, having needed assistance in all the basic functions of selfcare for the past 30 years. No, I could live to be 90, as long as I can be vibrant, energetic, and useful up until then. And that’s what I mean by longevity: that is the goal.
Now, we need to think about how we’re going to get to where we want to be. For this, I’m going to focus on making small changes that over time will have a big impact. I’ve produced a lot of content around this concept over the years. Just as a reminder of that content, there is the concept of “The minimal effective dose” or the “baby steps approach”. This approach is about determining the smallest achievable thing that, while small, will progress you towards a desired outcome. Small changes are really important to me. When I get them right, it not only helps me to feel more in control, it’s also a significant advancement towards that endgame. By taking health ownership, I can achieve my goal, which is to stay feeling healthy, vibrant, useful, for as long as possible.
Arguably the most important part of taking ownership of your health is your values. What is going to help you get there? And for me, that’s simply my autonomy: the level of self-directing freedom I have over my life; my body. I want to be as autonomous as possible. So, my goal is longevity, the how is what I must do to get there, and autonomy is my driving value.
And that’s how I want to start the process of taking health ownership. By asking, what is your goal? How will you achieve it? What are your values? I want you to be really clear about what it is that you are aiming for, and work back from that to understand what is required of yourself to get there.