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Five Questions to Guide Co-Workers to Make Lifestyle Changes

by Sara Correnti, Manager, Health & Welfare Member Wellness Products
Man sleeping with his mouth open

You’ve seen it over and over – someone who wants to make lifestyle changes but doesn’t. Readiness to change is a process. If someone is not at the stage of action, not much will be happening.

Over the past year we’ve touched on what you can be doing to help someone move from pre-action stages to the action stage. It boils down to a lot of encouragement and praise with minimal to no judgment or “telling them what to do.” But is there more? Yes: motivation for change.

Motivation is at the heart of change and comes from one of two places – external or internal.

  1. External motivation is something from outside someone that moves them to do something (i.e., grandchildren, gift card, prize, etc.).
  2. Internal motivation is something that comes from within (i.e., “I want to get around pain-free” or “I want to decrease my risk for a heart attack”).

It would seem logical that when someone has both they would be more motivated when in fact it’s just the opposite. When someone is trying to make a change or achieve a goal based on both, it can backfire and lead them to getting nowhere.

So how can you help your workers and make a bigger impact? Help them by asking these five questions:

  1. What is most important to you? What is it that makes someone do the tough stuff in life? Is it feeling energetic day-to-day, keeping up with the kids, etc.?
  2. What do you believe about your health or what is best for your health? What we decide to do in regards to anything, not just our health, has to line up with our values and beliefs. Just think if you were asked to do a task or job that defied our Lutheran values. You wouldn’t do it, right? The same goes with health habits. If a habit doesn’t align with what we value or believe, it’s not going to stick.
  3. Is your goal long term or short term? When the reward of hard work it too far off, it becomes unrealistic and loses its luster or draw. Our goals, while great to be long term in nature, have to also have a more immediate impact. If something doesn’t give us a short-term benefit, it’s harder to maintain. For instance, if exercise didn’t give someone a burst of energy at the time of doing it, they may not find it as easy to continue day-to-day just in hopes of preventing disease way down the road.
  4. How can you make parts of your goal more short term? Don’t get me wrong, disease prevention is a great motivator, but what else can be done to make a habit beneficial now. Breaking up a larger, long-term goal into short-term achievements can help to maintain momentum in working toward that bigger goal.
  5. Can you maintain this for years to come? If their answer is no, it may not be a lasting change. Be cautious about extreme, sudden lifestyle changes. While motivation is good, be sure to encourage healthy habits as best as you can in the hope of preventing them from burning out too soon on a new, healthy habit.

In 2019, we will talk more about maintaining positive lifestyle changes once they get going. Be sure to stay connected to the Wellness Champion program by keeping contact information up-to-date and checking out monthly communications, such as emails and conference calls. Keep an eye out for announcements of “Wellness Champion 101” sessions to hear 2019’s wellness offerings and get extensive training on using them and effectively sharing them with your co-workers.