It’s that time of year once again when we all dream up new healthy habits that we plan to stick with throughout the year. We all want to lose a certain amount of weight, workout more, sleep a little longer, and watch less television this year, but few of us actually succeed in doing any of these in the long term. Use these tips to help you commit and stick to your self-improvement goals in 2017 and live your healthiest year yet.
Write it Down
Those who take the time to write out their goals are much more likely to stick to them than those you just think about them. What also helps is posting these goals somewhere you will see them daily, giving you a constant reminder of what you are working towards. If you also share your goals with a friend or family members you may be even more apt to stick to these goals. Having someone to remind you or ask you about your goals can keep you in check, and having the verbal support of others who know you are working hard on those goals is very motivating as well.
Set Specific Goals
We hear this all the time, but setting specific and action-based goals is key when setting yourself up for success. Instead of: I want to lose weight this year... stating that you want to lose 5 pounds by March 1st by reaching 10,000 steps daily - is a more timely and specific goal that you can either check off or re-evaluate when the date comes. Keeping them realistic of course is important as well.
Focus on Adding not Subtracting
Instead of bringing your attention to things you want to avoid or remove from your diet, focus on what you can ADD to your life that will make you healthier and happier. Can you add in an extra walk? How about adding in a protein source to your breakfast meal each day? Where you bring your attention, your behaviors will follow. For example if you are trying to take away all sugar from your diet, you may find yourself fixated on all things sugar. This makes sticking to your goals much more challenging! Instead think about adding in a nightly piece or fruit or daily substitute that promotes health and replaces your want for sugar.
Set Weekly Goals Instead
Sometimes yearly or even monthly goals can seem overwhelming and we feel like quitting before we have even started the journey. Setting up a weekly goal is much more approachable and less intimidating for us to begin. Instead of stating you want to attend the gym 3 times a week for the entire year, just focus on one week at a time setting realistic goals for that week ahead. For example if you know you will be traveling or have conflicts a certain week you can set a realistic goal of going on 2 long walks instead of attending the gym that week. This will keep you focused on smaller amounts of time and keep the goals attainable and realistic.
Positive reinforcement can work on ourselves too! If bringing a healthy lunch is a big challenge for you, and you stick to packing your lunch every day for 2 weeks straight try treating yourself to a new workout t-shirt or a manicure. Setting your sights on a reward or prize will keep you focused during the hard times where you are tempted to veer off track. Keep rewards healthy and in line with your general health and self-care goals (i.e. don’t treat yourself to ice cream because you went to the gym that week as this can create unhealthy relationships with food).
Find a Buddy
Find a partner who will meet you for your early workouts or someone who will share food prepping tasks with you. Having another person you are responsible for showing up for will keep you honest and will make you much more apt to stick to your word. Plus you will have more fun in your pursuits to being healthier if you have someone else to share the triumphs and tough times with.
Goals do not have to be etched in stone for an entire year. This is also why weekly goals are a great way to manage and re-evaluate goals when necessary. There is nothing wrong with switching up or scratching a goal that no longer is in line with your vision for your life. For example your original goal may have been set out to run a marathon by the fall, but then you fell in love with a strength training class which took away the focus from running outside as much. There is nothing wrong with re-focusing on a new or different healthy habit as long as you are happy with the direction you are moving. Set weekly and monthly goals to continue to evolve your goals throughout the year.
Showing gratitude shows us how far we have come, allows us to focus on what we have done well, and makes us appreciate our efforts even more.