The fundamental question from the Trajectories and Adulthood post was Is your current trajectory taking you where you want to go? The last post addressed what to do with the frequent and honest answer of “It hurts to think about it, like dental work or taxes, so I don’t even want to look.”
If the answer is “I’m not doing so hot — but I want to,” here’s what logically needs to come next.
You start by realizing that your education has been incomplete. There’s something missing from the trajectory of where your health journey is taking you. Your ship is not going to make landfall, you need to course correct.
Basically, there are 3 paths forward.
1. You have the answer already
Maybe the answer is already inside you, it’s just gotten buried and you need to remember it. If you’ve successfully accomplished a health goal before, your odds of successfully attaining it are 100%; you’ve already done it. If you’re trying to lose X pounds and you successfully lost X pounds by doing ABC, there’s not much guesswork involved. You may have to think hard to recall what you did before, maybe dig out old notes for specifics, but the re-finding will need nowhere near the effort to test out and implement a solution from scratch.
2. You have the components to the answer
If you haven’t successfully reached a health goal but you’re pretty sure you have the tools and resources to do so, that’s the next closest win. Let’s say you want to increase your active lean muscle mass, and you have weights and resistance bands and a workout area at home, but haven’t gotten around to actually doing the workouts. The way forward — creating a workout habit — is clear. It’s not necessarily trivial, but the next step is not an enigma wrapped in a mystery.
Many of the common chronic medical conditions belong to this category. High blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes, even neurodegenerative diseases and many cancers have well-established actions you can take to sharply tilt the odds in your favor.
Again, I point you to habit science, and the resources from BJ Fogg and James Clear. If you’re pretty sure you know what to do but the problem has been sticking with it, the latest learnings of habit science will be a godsend: working with the way your brain works instead of mindlessly fighting against your neurology, to make habitual actions much easier and more consistent. It’s the difference between wondering why you’re eating donuts and third helpings of lasagna again vs. eating clean, exercising regularly, and being well-rested before 7 AM, every day, what’s next?
3. You are flapping your arms about the answer
The last type of knowledge gap is when you have no idea about how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Maybe you need information about how some arcane biochemical pathway works, or maybe it’s something simpler, like exactly which foods your immune system is reacting to, or precisely how high your blood sugar surges when you eat what you thought was a healthy meal. But this is fundamentally an issue of I-Don’t-Know something. You’re totally primed and ready to connect the dots, but you’re missing dots.
This is when you drop to your knees and give thanks that you live in the 21st century and the age of the Internet. Asking a question about how to do something, how to fill a knowledge gap has literally never. Ever. Been easier.
The old days of “But I don’t have a guild membership and access to the master swordsmith!” or “But I don’t live in Hollywood and can’t hang out at the special effects house that worked on Star Wars!” are gone. You are no longer SOL at the start of your quest by not having connections or living in the wrong geography. You can access other doers via online communities, start your own online community, or worst-case scenario, Google or YouTube search that shizz.
The best way to learn something…
Efficiently that is, is still to have an experienced mentor guide you through the thing until you nail it. From a health and fitness standpoint, this can be your doctor or another trusted healthcare provider (nurse, physician assistant, nutritionist, therapist, physical therapist, etc). Caveat emptor: not all certified healthcare providers are up to date on the most relevant knowledge, and not all online authorities are bozos.
The point is, strategically you have at least 3 options.
If at first you don’t succeed, you can chase your goals.