When you travel, what do you do before you leave your home or office? Set an itinerary. Pack. And ensure that you have everything you’ll need for the trip. Creating a vision for your own best health is like getting ready for travel. However, it’s not often the case that you have a roadmap, or a vision that reflects what you want and what you value when it comes to your best health to help guide your journey.

Why does having a vision of your own best health matter?

With so much health-related information available to you, making lifestyle changes that last are best supported with an understanding of what you want and why you want to make these changes.

Setting a vision and homing in on your values for your best health means creating a clear picture of your desired state of well-being. It also means clarifying what you value, so you can establish principles (values) that guide your health-related decisions and behaviors. Here are some steps you can take to help define your vision and values for your own optimal health:

Start by Asking Questions

Step 1: Start by reflecting on your current health, including physical, mental, and emotional components. Rather than assigning yourself a grade or number as part of the evaluation process, ask yourself broad qualitative questions like these:

  • How do I feel about my current status in each of the above areas? What other areas make up my current health profile, and how do I feel about my current status in those areas?
  • How does my current health support the life I want to lead?
  • When it comes to my health, what do I want to maintain? What do I want to change?

Step 2: Next define your vision of your best health. As you build out your ideal state of health, begin with answers to these questions:

  • When it comes to my best health, what is most important to me? Is it longevity or aging well? Is my vocation or avocation health-dependent? Does my best health support others like family, friends, or community? Thing broadly, trying not to censor yourself.
  • What would my best health allow me to do? Travel? Work or retire? Continue with a favorite activity? Again, paint a vivid word picture that describes what you want your best health for.
  • How would realizing my best health make me feel? Energized? Confident? At peace? Your list might include these, or other feelings unique to you.

Step 3: Identify Core Values

Finally, take some time to reflect on the values that are most important to you in life. To spark some thoughts, ask yourself questions like these:

  • What are the beliefs, priorities and principles that are important for me to uphold?
  • What values resonate with me? Is it honesty, integrity, compassion, or community?
  • Your list does not have to be exhaustive, and prioritizing your list may help narrow it to what are absolute must-haves and what values may be secondary in importance.

Start with These: Vision and Values Examples

Ready to build your roadmap to your own best health? These examples may help you get started:

“The best version of me is healthy and able to enjoy life doing things that are important to me, like my work. I value the relationships in my life, especially with my sister who depends on me for care, so my good health supports that. When I retire, I want to be able to hike with my dog and volunteer using my skills as a professional photographer, so staying physically active is of primary importance to me.”

“I want to be the first person in my immediate family to live a long and healthy life despite a familial chronic health condition. I value time with family and friends, and the opportunity to see as much of the world as I can. Remaining independent – living on my own especially – is tremendously important to me. To do that means proactively managing my health through self-care and regular physician support. As with any trip you take, it is important to consider and plan for stops and starts. Building a roadmap to you best health may not be a linear process, however, there is much to experience, enjoy and appreciate along the way.