“The busy lifestyle of being an executive often leaves little time for improvement.” This is a statement we have heard time and time again, in one version or another. Maybe that’s why some executives pack on the pounds, lose countless hours of sleep, and neglect even their most basic needs. But, it’s the executives who refuse to fall prey to that kind of thinking who show improvement year after year.
In 2018, you have a choice. It’s the same choice you had in 2017, 2016, and every year before that. What are you going to do differently this time? Goals are only worth making if you set out a plan to achieve them. If you need help making goals, here are some executive-specific goals and a sure-fire plan to help you accomplish them.
#1 Exercise More and Sit Less
Increasing your activity level will not only help you trim your waistline, it will improve cognition and mood. The first step is to buy a step counter and wear it religiously for one to two weeks. This will give you a read on how much you actually move in a typical day. Be sure to hook the device to your waistline so that you’re not getting false steps from arm-only movements.
Once you see how many steps you are taking, work towards to doubling that number. The ultimate goal should be to reach 10,000 steps per day. If you find yourself in long meetings, doing heavy computer work, or stuck at your desk, set a bi-hourly alarm on your phone. This will serve as a reminder to stand up and stretch, or take a small walk down the hall, every 30 minutes.
Walking in the evening can be very therapeutic. Take time to walk around the block a few times to clear your mind. Walking with family gives you twice the benefits, since it provides uninterrupted time for meaningful talks with your spouse or children.
Then, of course, there’s the obvious. Park as far away from your office door as possible and force yourself to walk. Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator, or do a combination of both if your office is more than five floors up.
#2 Take a Screen Break
Technology is great. It’s what makes our businesses more profitable, our friends and family more accessible, and what keeps us connected. Now that we have that out of the way – technology has it’s pitfalls. It keeps you connected 24/7, leaving little to no downtime. There is even a new term, or unofficial diagnosis, for those who refuse to turn off their phones and be present. It’s called FOMO, which is an acronym for fear of missing out, referring to the constant need to stay connected. A condition that could lead to many more acronyms if not controlled. Think CAD, which stands for coronary artery disease or BMI, which stands for body mass index, something that increases with excessive use of technology.
Set reasonable rules for your phone, computer, and television and follow them. For example, turn all the phones off during meals. Same goes for the television. A meal should be a time for giving gratitude and sharing conversation with those around you.
Also, give your phone, computer, and television a curfew. This is the hardest rule but has the most reward. Never make technology the first thing you give your morning to or the last thing you do before going to sleep. In the evening, a two-hour pre-retirement rule is best. Using technology within the two-hour window before bed can reduce your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which in turn disrupts your natural circadian rhythm. As for the morning hours, give your eyes time to adjust and your brain time to wake up before introducing technology.
#3 Reduce Alcohol Intake by 50%
Alcoholic beverages often come with the territory and the job title, but nobody’s going to snub someone who’s making a conscious effort to be healthier. When wine and hard liquor drinks are part of the daily equation, it often means that healthy choices, like water, are not. The body needs adequate hydration to function.
Not only will drinking more water and less alcohol improve your overall feeling of wellbeing, it has specific health benefits as well, like better cognition and improved mood. The brain is nearly 80% water and needs to be constantly hydrated. Also, drinking less alcohol means reducing overall body inflammation.
Inflammation has been linked to everything from cancer to heart disease.
Perhaps the most overlooked reason to cut your alcohol intake is to reduce calories. A person who goes from five to seven drinks per week down to two or three will make a significant change to their caloric intake. Not only will the pounds fall off, the skin will start to look younger and healthier.
There are so many goals you can set, but remember that goals need to be specific, measurable and achievable. As you review your own goals for the New Year, be sure to create a plan on how you are going to achieve them. Remember, you have a choice. Make the right one this year.