It’s nearly the New Year and for many people, this moment of transition inspires self-reflection and a look toward what’s next. Often the new calendar year means resolutions and intense goal setting; yet, for many, the last few years have left many people burnt out, over-committed, and exhausted.
This year, instead of buying into New Year, New You (which most people don’t sustain anyway) consider making a Wellness Plan.
Your 2023 Wellness Plan is your flexible, process-oriented roadmap for the ongoing wellness journey that is your life. The focus is less on being perfectly optimized, and more on your process of integration and wholeness.
Why is a Wellness Plan Different From a Training Program?
To understand the difference between a wellness plan and a training program it’s helpful to know the difference between fitness and wellness. The Oxford Dictionary defines fitness as a noun for “the condition of being physically fit and healthy” or “the quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task.”
By this definition, fitness is outcome-oriented and relates to either a state of readiness or being able to achieve some specific goal or feat. A training program is a progressive plan to get you from your current state to whatever state of fitness you desire.
In contrast, NASM defines wellness as a verb: “A personal journey towards mental, physical, social, and emotional betterment of life.”
Wellness, therefore, is an ongoing process: your wellness journey. A wellness plan is focused more on your practices within that process, applying your learning forward and integrating what you’ve learned into a positive and proactive sense of yourself.
Integration in this case is the ongoing process of moving towards more wholeness as a person, with less self-rejection, shame, and blame. Along your wellness journey, you might discover some goals or inspiration that leads you to a training program, which then becomes part of your wellness journey and is woven into your wellness plan.
Step 1: Start with Your Wellness Vision
The first step in building your wellness plan for 2023 is to craft, or update, your wellness vision. Your Wellness Vision is your idea of yourself at your best, healthiest version of yourself; without over-idealizing or buying into perfectionism. Just like any journey, you’ll want a sense of the direction you’re heading in before you start, even if you’re unsure exactly where you’re going.
One benefit of the Wellness Plan is its malleability, which is helpful if you’re unsure of exactly what outcomes and goals you desire.
Your Wellness Vision can be written out as a narrative, bullet points, doodles, or any way you can communicate to yourself what you want, why you’re seeking a shift in your wellness, and how you envision yourself in and on this journey.
Start your 2023 Wellness Plan by crafting a Wellness Vision. If you’re struggling with perfectionism or self-criticism, you may want to do a self-compassion exercise first.
Here are a few prompts you can use to jumpstart your wellness vision:
• How do you want to feel in 2023?
• What valuable lessons from 2022 do you carry into the New Year?
• What is your definition of “wellness”? What would it mean to embody that definition?
• Imagine yourself in December of 2023. You’ve achieved your wellness goals, followed your intentions, and integrated all you’ve learned along the way. How does wellness look and feel to you now?
Step 2: Setting Intentions and a Few Goals
Based on your Wellness Vision it’s time to set some goals and intentions. Just like fitness and wellness, goals and intentions are often presented interchangeably, but they’re separate tools to support your well-being.
Goals are outcome-oriented objectives with clear and definite measures of success, while intentions are subjective and focus on the emotional experience or approach to a given situation. You can think of it like this: goals have a clear direction and outcome, while intentions are more about direction and curiosity.
NASM Certified Wellness Coach describes the anatomy of an effective goal as having:
• High level of commitment.
• You feel motivated to overcome obstacles to get what you want.
• Aligns with your Big Why & your values.
• It’s deeply important to you.
Take a moment now and identify any clear, outcome-oriented goals from your Wellness Vision.
These are the launch points for your 2023 Wellness Plan:
• Identify a few clear, unambiguous goals for 2023.
• Using the groundwork from your Wellness Vision and your 2023 goals, what immediate goals can you pursue in the next month? 3 months? 6 months?
Next, consider the parts of your wellness plan that are less clear and tangible. These are the areas that focus primarily on emotions, what you’re curious about, and where you might want to explore your wellness.
Your intention for 2023 might include:
• How do you want to feel this year or on your wellness journey?
• What attitude or approach do you want to take toward your wellness this year?
• What you’re curious to learn without being invested in the outcome?
• How do you want to grow and explore in the coming year?
Step 3: Make Your Wellness Plan
Now it’s time to build a roadmap towards your Wellness Vision and the goals you’ve set out. Use the following prompts to help you flesh out the roadmap from where you are to where you envision yourself in the next month, 3 months, 6 months, and a year.
What tools, habits, or skills will be necessary for the first phase of your wellness plan?
• What are you planning to work on first?
• What resources will be helpful if you get stuck or frustrated?
• How do you want to feel in this process of seeking your wellness vision?
• What roadblocks do you anticipate? How will you meet those roadblocks and work through them?
• As you work towards your Wellness Vision in 2023, what will likely change in your day-to-day life?
• As you work towards your Wellness Vision in 2023, who supports you and how might your relationships change?
Step 4: Take Immediate Action & Build Next Steps
Two ways to boost motivation are to take immediate action toward our long-term plans and commit to the next steps related to shorter-term goals. Your final steps in bringing your 2023 Wellness Plan to life are to take a specific, concrete action and to game plan out the next few steps.
What immediate action will you take now that you’ve built your wellness plan?
It can be helpful when setting out on a long journey to remind yourself that you don’t have to know every stop along the way. All any of us need is to know the next few steps. Once we’ve taken them, we can pause, take stock, and reassess our next moves. Take a moment to consider the next few steps you’ll take from here to see your 2023 Wellness Plan to fruition.
Your 2023 Wellness Plan Throughout the Year
One important aspect of your wellness plan is its malleability. Wellness plans are meant to grow and change as you do. Rarely do all our dreams and goals go exactly as we’d planned but keeping a growth mindset means focusing on how we can apply those struggles going forward. One way to support yourself in seeing your plans through is scheduling time at regular intervals to revisit your plan, revise it, and integrate what you’ve learned.
Depending on your current practices that may be weekly or monthly. You might also consider posting a daily reminder of your intention and goals somewhere you’ll regularly see it.