Facts for Living: One bite at a time

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension Agent

080714-facts-for-living1How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. We all know the saying, but we often fail to apply this to various situations and problems we face in life. Whether it’s tackling an enormous project, losing weight to become healthier, or spending less to get out of debt, the best way to approach it is in smaller pieces.

As you hurry to buy just the right gift for those special people in your life, put the finishing touches on your holiday décor, and prepare your family’s favorite holiday dishes, remember this famous quote. I’m sure it will be the last thing on your mind, but in January when you are trying to pay off your credit cards and pay for your monthly expenses, and get back in to your favorite designer jeans, you’ll wish you had.

If you’re like millions of Americans every New Year’s Eve, you resolve to get healthier (quit smoking, lose weight) and wealthier (increase savings and reduce debt), don’t wait. Start now to take small steps for your health and wealth.

Rutgers University Cooperative Extension Service’s Small Steps to Health and Wealth, provides 25 behavior-change strategies to improve your health and wealth, and I will share them with you over the next several months.

The 25 strategies include five overall themes: Time, control, knowledge and awareness, automation, and environment.

  • Time is a key factor because poor health and financial behaviors take time to reach serious proportions. It also takes time to reverse the damage done and change to more positive habits.
  • Personal control is also an important factor affecting changed behaviors. Very often, when there’s a will, people find a way to achieve a desired goal.
  • Knowledge and awareness is built in to several behavior-change strategies. When people know more about an issue, they can often make better decisions.
  • A fourth common theme is automation. In other words, taking action that prevents future decision-making and assures future action. Once a behavior becomes automated, you don’t have to think about it again. It’s done and you don’t have to worry about having personal qualities like discipline and self-control. An example of this is having a set amount of your salary automatically deposited in a savings account every pay period.
  • The final theme is environment. If you take steps to control your environment, you will have an easier time changing your behavior than if you continue to live surrounded by temptations and negative influences.

By now I hope I’ve convinced you (and myself) that the foundation of health and wealth lies within you. Today is the first day to rest of your life. Make the most of it and take charge of your health and finances, or do nothing and suffer the consequences. The choice is up to you.


McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and child development agent. For more information, she can be contacted at the Extension district’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].


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