It’s been a rough start to 2022. Many of us had high hopes for this year but COVID had other plans. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re struggling to feel motivated or having trouble incorporating some healthy habits. Most people are barely hanging on with the fear, stress and overwhelm this year has already brought.
At the same time, it’s important that you don’t give up. Continuing to make goals and support yourself is important. Your goals or intentions don’t have to life-changing, they can just be life-supporting. Small changes can add up and given the challenges we are facing, they are a good way to help you stay on track with your health without being overwhelming and setting you up for failure. A few more walks, a few more vegetables, a few more glasses of water, and you’ll be on your way to feeling better overall.
A tool I often refer to when working with my patients is the SMART acronym. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Based.
Specific: Be specific in your goal. Saying you want to “exercise more” or “eat healthier” is not specific. Instead, determine the time and type of exercise you want to do. For example, “I will walk for 30 minutes 3 times a week”. Instead of “eat healthier”, consider “I will eat at least 5 servings for fruits or vegetables a day”.
Measurable: Keep track and measure your progress. Consider a journal or calendar and make sure you check off the days that you achieve your goal.
Attainable: Make sure your goals are attainable. For example, if you have never exercised in your life, aiming to run a marathon is probably not attainable and will set you up to fail. However, setting an attainable goal, like training to run a 5k will help set you up for success. This is important. Always set yourself up for success not failure!
Realistic: Take a look at your life. Are the goals you have set out realistic? For example, if you are not a morning person, it is not realistic to expect that you will exercise 4 mornings a week. This might be one of the reasons you have failed to make exercise a habit in the past. Consider taking a walk at lunch time instead, or exercising after work. This is where it helps to take some time to look at why you have been unsuccessful at attaining a particular goal in the past.
Time-Based: Put a time limit on your goal. To do this, you might consider breaking down your goal into smaller sub-goals. You may want to run a 5k by the end of 2019. That is your goal but your sub-goal might be to run 2km by the end of March, 4 km by the end of May and then running the full 5k in July. Setting sub-goals helps you stay on track and allows you to experience small “wins” along the way to help motivate you to keep going.
I know this year hasn’t started out well but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. Be kind to yourself and others. Be patient when you can, and most importantly, keep reminding yourself that these are very difficult times, and you’re doing the best you can.