Smart Goals for a Healthy Year

It's that time of the year again folks! Will you be among the millions of Americans who make a resolution to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, or some other self-improvement plan(s) this year? 

Most of us start off strong in January but, unfortunately, many will quit after a few weeks. Our biggest mistake is setting unrealistic goals. We bite off more than we can chew, then get disappointed and give up by the time February rolls around. 

Resolving to make a change is one thing, but keeping a resolution is the real challenge. According to research by the University of Scranton, 92% of the population are unsuccessful with following through on resolution commitments. There’s even a name for it: “False Hope Syndrome”, a clinical psychology term used to define the cycle of repeated attempts to change (Int. Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 2001). This is commonly used to define people who are resolving to change—losing weight—followed by trying and failing, followed by setting new resolutions the next year starting the cycle all over again. 

Do you want to be among the eight percent who succeeds? Follow these simple tips. 

Goal Setting: Setting the right S.M.A.R.T. goal is the first and, most often, hardest step. If you are planning to “get healthy” in general, you need to start by defining your goal and determine steps or actions needed to be successful. Often times, our goals are too broad and that makes it difficult to achieve them. Goals have to be specific and clearly state what you plan to accomplish. In addition, goals should be measurable and attainable. Track your progress to know when your goal has been reached by using the smart apps readily available to today’s technology driven society. Try not to make the goal too extreme, nor so easy that it’s not motivating. 

Don’t make the mistake of borrowing your friend’s goal as this could set you up for failure. Be realistic and make sure your goal is something important to you. Lastly, make sure your goal is time-based as giving yourself a deadline helps boost your motivation for achieving your goal.

An overall rule of thumb is to keep it simple. “Set small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than a singular, overwhelming goal,” states Lynn Bufka, PsyD, American Psychology Association. For example, choose a goal like losing one pound per week, or four pounds in a month. Taking it one step at a time helps make the goal more attainable and motivating. 

Make Time: A very important step to achieving your goal is to ‘make’ time. Find time within your normal daily schedule to meal prep, or get in a quick thirty-minute workout. Make it official by setting an appointment or marking the activity on your calendar. Find activities that are not only doable, but also enjoyable. Eventually, they’ll become so second-nature, you will forget they were resolutions. Be mindful that the more convenient it is, the easier it is to keep. You can also use social media to hold yourself accountable. Post daily about how many steps you walked using your wearable tracking device or your weekly meal prep. It may seem annoying, but your commitment may help someone else.

Make a Plan B: Figure out your recovery plan now. Don’t wait until you start missing workouts, or you’re too busy to meal prep for the week. Slips will happen, but don’t allow these excuses to veer you from your path.

Sticking to your New Year's resolution all year long is about making small, sustainable improvements for a happy and healthier you. Remember to respect your own preferences, surround yourself with supportive people, and forgive yourself for slips—so that you will sail through the months!

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