We’ve almost reached the end of January, and for many people the resolutions made this year are already starting to slip. If you made some health goals for this year, they’re worth keeping! Here are five simple tips to get you back on track, and to help make sure your health goals really stick.
Pick a goal that’s right for you.
If you’re going to make changes, it has to be for the right reasons. There can be a lot of pressure from society in general to make certain goals, but they’re very unlikely to stick if you’re not personally convinced.
Don’t just dust off the same goals as every year – spend some time to carefully think about the goals that are really important to you and how you might realistically achieve them with the time and resources available to you this year.
Be S.M.A.R.T. with your health.
In a 1981 paper in the Journal of Management Review, George T. Doran coined an acronym that can help you make goals you can actually keep. Think S.M.A.R.T.! Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Vague or overly ambitious plans with no way to measure your achievements can trip you up before you even get started.
Give yourself reason to celebrate.
While most people have an end-goal in mind, making a series of smaller goals to get to that point will help give you strategy and motivation. Give yourself a list of achievements to tick off along the way, and make sure to celebrate your progress! Small, permanent changes will lead to big results.
Remember that not all celebration has to include cake! Often we associate rewards with food-based treats, but for most health goals that strategy is unhelpful. Giving yourself some time off, purchasing a luxury item or a planned sleep-in will make you feel better in the long run.
It makes absolutely no sense to be mad at yourself for missing a step. Not only should you be proud that you are committed to improvement, remember that if your goals are making you more miserable than happy you’re more likely to throw in the towel. Take a deep breath and start again, as many times as it takes.
If you find that you’re consistently missing your targets, consider having another look at why that might be happening. Are your goals unrealistic? Do you need extra support? Do you have specific strategies in place for when you’re tempted to fall off the wagon? Your goals need to be designed to fit you, not the other way around.
Resolutions are much easier to keep when you work on them with other people. Instead of a vague announcement of your intentions, try to share your specific goals and strategies with someone who will help keep you on track in the long term.
Displaying your goals (short- and long-term) somewhere you can see them can help. There are also many apps and websites available to help you stay on track. If you have specific health goals, talk to your GP about safe and effective ways you can achieve them.