We are often hesitant to turn to others for help, especially when it is a personal matter like health and wellness. Maybe it’s because we’re embarrassed or believe we are past help. We’re more likely to focus on the wellness of loved ones rather than our own. Over and over again, we are told that our health is paramount – but often that is not enough for us to make a long‐term change.

Health coaching participants have told me that the first session is always the hardest because they don’t know what to expect. Typically the first session allows me to get to know the participant a little better and find out what is important to them.

When I think back to one of my most memorable coaching sessions, the participant’s first words were: “I know you are just going to tell me I’m overweight, I need to work out more, eat less fast food, and quit smoking. My doctor has been telling me this for years; you aren’t going to tell me anything different. Are we done now?” I was a little caught off‐guard by this and paused for a moment; then I asked him if he wanted to change those things right now. At first, it did not sound promising. He didn’t want to quit smoking, hated working out, and fast food was his only option due to a lack of time during the week. He was a single parent of two kids who had after‐school activities almost every night. After discussing the main barriers he faced, we were able to start planning ways to overcome each barrier. Time was a key barrier for this participant, so the first goal was to start scheduling his days in a planner or in his phone.

By our second session, the participant had achieved his goal and was now scheduling everything in his phone. We were able to find some time while the kids were at after‐school sports. He was able to plan two meals for that week instead of resorting to fast food. This was truly the beginning. We check in monthly, and after multiple coaching sessions he is eating fast food only one time per week, and has lost some weight. In turn, the weight loss boosted his confidence enough to start walking with another parent who has kids in the same sports. Now he wants to start cutting back on smoking.

These are not goals I set for him, but rather things he wanted for himself. Talking with someone about goals brings new perspective and accountability. Goal‐setting is important because it gives you something to reach for – and it is exciting to say you reached your goal! Each participant has individual needs and each goal must be personal to that individual. Goals should be specific, have a time limit, and be realistic. For one person that goal might be getting a planner and meal planning, or cutting out one bottle of soda per week. For another, it might be preparing to run a marathon. What are your goals? When it comes to better health, no goal is too small.

Tara Schmitz is Society’s Health Coach and conducts several on-site and telephonic health coaching sessions each month for Society Insurance. Click here to learn more about benefits that make a difference for the financial, physical and emotional well-being of Society Insurance employees.