What is the “one thing” that, if you committed to doing it consistently, would have the biggest positive impact on your health?
Exercising? Eating Healthy? Scheduling that doctor’s visit you’ve been pushing to the bottom of your to-do list? Learning how to say ‘no’ and set healthy boundaries? Getting enough sleep?
A clear vision is essential when it comes to achieving any goal, but especially when it involves your health.
In the book The One Thing, author Gary Heller suggests that your biggest “one thing” is your purpose. Everything else either moves you toward your purpose or is a distraction.
The same goes for your well-being: the sum of the little things you do every day determines your whole health.
The Power of One Thing
There is a great deal of power in having one thing. A singular focus will help you tune out what isn’t important, so you can move wholeheartedly toward what is.
Have you ever felt scattered when juggling multiple goals? That’s because it’s next to impossible to manage competing priorities. Focusing on just one thing at a time helps you manage your time, energy, and bandwidth. Getting clear about your one thing is a powerful strategy that will keep help you avoid derailing your intentions.
You’re the only one who can determine what is a priority and what isn’t. And depending on your season of life, you may have responsibilities that can’t be put off until later. Caregivers, parents, and leaders often wrestle with these kinds of managing competing priorities.
Still, knowing your “one thing” can help guide you. Your one thing serves as your compass. It’s the thing against which you measure all the other things. It helps you make decisions about how you spend your time and energy.
Staying laser focused on your one thing will help you carefully consider opportunities and invitations as they come your way. In those moments of consideration, you’ll be able to ask yourself if they are bringing you closer to your one thing or further away from it. Because unless it aligns with your one thing, it’s a distraction. And let’s be honest: it’s all too easy to become distracted by other priorities—many of which are someone else’s priorities rather than your own.
New habits require a great deal of energy to master. Any time you decide to create a new habit, you’ll likely be faced with challenges—waning motivation, conflicting desires, and even saboteurs that steer you away from your goals.
So be sure to set aside time on a regular basis to review your goals. This will help you stay connected and committed to your intentions.
Where to Find Your One Thing
But finding your one thing can be tricky.
Your one thing lies deep within your soul. It’s the part of you that knows the real you—what you want, what you’re capable of, and what you’re willing to do to get it. Finding your one thing may even be a spiritual experience. That’s because your one thing is closely tied to your source of motivation—the reason you want what you want.
When making any lifestyle change, it’s often difficult to know where to start. Changing even the tiniest routines can be inconvenient and mentally exhausting. New beginnings can even feel scary because unknowns are uncomfortable.
That’s where journaling can help. The blank pages in your journal are a great starting point for so many important life decisions and challenges. Those blank pages can help you map out a plan that’s an exact fit for your needs and personal style.
And those same blank pages are patiently waiting to help you discover your one thing.
How to Find Your One Thing Through Journaling
So, how exactly can your journal help you uncover your one thing? Journaling can help you get to the heart of what’s getting in the way of your health. It can help you weigh the pros and cons of doing (or not doing) things to support your health. It can help you explore what’s possible, given your current season of life.
Here are a few questions to explore during your next journaling session:
- What is the one thing that would have the greatest positive impact on your health?
- If you were certain that you’d succeed, what would you do to improve your well-being?
- What have you been putting off that you know you need to fix for the sake of your health?
- What do you want to start doing?
- What do you want to stop doing?
- What is your biggest health concern you have at this moment?
- What’s standing in the way of your health? List everything that comes to mind.
- What are you willing to do right now to improve your health?
- What is the easiest thing you could do to being improving your lifestyle?
- Which of your daily habits, if adjusted slightly, would bring the biggest positive results?
- Which of your habits have you been unwilling to address?
- Which areas of your life have the greatest opportunity for improvement?
Once you feel your journaling session is complete, look over your answers and see if any themes emerge. Are you seeing any repeating patterns or words that you’ve written more than once?
Health improvement almost always involves establishing new habits in the areas of eating, movement, sleep, or mental health. Have any of those themes emerged?
Now consider which of these themes feels the most “doable” right now. What are you willing to commit to in this moment? What’s realistic? What is your heart saying you need to do?
After you zero in on your one thing, the next step is to set the wheels in motion.
Living Your One Thing
Success is only achieved through action, and your health goals are no exception. You must be willing to invest your time and energy in your one thing to experience the benefits.
Your one thing isn’t just an occasional thing you do when you feel like it. It’s the thing you do even on days when you’d rather do something else. It’s the thing you do even when it feels selfish or silly or pointless. It’s an everyday thing. And you do it because it’s your one thing.
You’ll know when you’re living your one thing when it no longer feels like work. That’s when your one thing transitions from an item on your to-do list into who you are. So, instead of hitting your 10,000 steps per day goal, you’ll become a someone who enjoys walking. And on some days you’ll probably walk more than 10,000 steps, and on other days you’ll walk less. But you’ll still be in alignment with your one thing.
Habits become lifestyles when they start to feel effortless, and you can’t imagine not doing them. To create a new lifestyle, keep your attention focused on your one thing.
Finding your “one thing” can be the catalyst that propels you forward toward even bigger goals. Each time to master your one thing, you can move on to the next one. And each time you do, you’ll gain confidence and momentum to keep making positive lifestyle changes. And the great news is that it’s much easier to maintain healthy habits than it is to create new ones.
Still need some help finding your one thing?
Take the Whole Health Journaling Challenge to examine how your lifestyle is impacting your health. Throughout the challenge, you’ll be guided through a series of journaling exercises
Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as providing or replacing medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Author bio: STACY FISHER, RDN, LD, CDCES is the founder of LivingUpp, a lifestyle design company that teaches women how to use a self-care planning system to create more ease and better health.
She is a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach with 20+ years of experience in the healthcare industry, where she’s worked with large companies such as Dell, Boeing, and Nike. Stacy is the author of The Lifestyle Design Planner, a flexible life organizer for high-achievers who value self-care and simplicity.