Health is one of those things we tend not to worry about too much when we’re young, but that becomes increasingly important as we age. At any age, however, bad physical or emotional health can be a drain on your productivity, and, of course, a blot on your overall happiness. And ongoing neglect of your health can lead to catastrophe.
For these reasons, “self-care,” meaning the care and nurturing of your physical and emotional being, should always be your top priority. Although this sounds selfish, it is actually quite practical. By spending a few hours each week maintaining your physical and emotional health, you ensure that you have maximum energy and motivation to devote to working on your activism and other goals.
Self-care includes things like getting good nutrition3, lots of exercise, lots of sleep and regular medical and dental checkups. It also includes things like therapy (if you need it), maintaining a good social network, and creating a safe and comfortable physical environment for yourself. It also includes making enough money so that you can meet your obligations to yourself and others, and live the kind of lifestyle that makes you happy. And for some people, self-care also includes following an intellectual, creative, spiritual or other practice. (Most of these topics are discussed in more detail in the following chapters.)
Self-care also means dealing with any problems related to your physical or emotional health as quickly as possible. If you currently suffer from any such problems, consult a professional and work on your cure in a committed and decisive way. Health problems can impede your progress every step of the way, and often get worse if left untreated, so please don’t ignore them.
Health & Fitness Goals List
Write down a list of your goals related to your physical and emotional health in as much detail as possible. Don’t forget to include . . .
• medical checkups
• emotional health (i.e., your “issues”)
We’ll call this document your Health & Fitness Goals List.
Here are some tips for when you create this and the remainder of the Goals Lists I’ll be discussing:
First, be sure to be specific. Under “nutrition,” for example, don’t just write “eat better,” write down what, specifically, “eating better” means, i.e.: “cut back on caffeine, stop eating candy, stop drinking soda, stop going to McDonald’s for lunch, eat more whole wheat, etc.” We’ll call those “sub-goals.” And no, you don’t tackle them all at once. (See below.)
Next, when writing about a behavior you wish to stop, be sure to indicate the behavior you want to replace it. Don’t just say you want to stop going to McDonald’s for lunch, for instance; say where or what you’re going to do instead—i.e., “go to the local soup-and-salad place,” or “bring a healthy lunch from home.”
And, finally, be sure to prioritize each set of sub-goals. This is because, as Drucker advises, you should only work on one sub-goal at a time. In other words, you should only be working on your most important nutrition, exercise, sleep, physical health and mental health sub-goals, not just because you won’t have time to do much more, especially when this Goal List is combined with the Activist and other Goal Lists you’ll be creating, but also because, as I’ll discuss in Part III, you’ll see the best results that way. Only after you achieve a sub-goal should you re-prioritize your list of the remaining subgoals and then focus on the next most important one.