We’re firmly into the first month of the year. You may already be working hard towards the goals you’ve set out for yourself this year but the reality is, that most New Year’s resolutions don’t stick. By the end of March, most people have given up on their goals and gone back to their old habits.
What can you do to stick to your goals for 2023?
Continuing to make goals and support yourself is important. Your goals or intentions don’t have to be life-changing, they can just be life-supporting. Small changes can add up and, 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.