As we near the end of the year, many of us will take some time to reflect on our health goals, did we achieve what we set-out to do? If not, why not? Perhaps our goals were not quite right for us? Or maybe there never seems to be enough time to get it all done? Whatever our reason, it is always a good idea to reflect on these questions and learn from our experiences before we devise a new set of goals for the upcoming year. Moreover, to ensure successful health goals, it is important to,
Know yourself: Reflect on your own values and what matters most to you. Your goals should be closely aligned with these values. You’ll need to know your own reason for wanting to make a change and this reason will serve as your foundation and provide you with strength for moving forward in moments of fatigue, doubt, fear or relapse, which will most certainly happen at some point during the process.
Make SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound): Avoid non-specific goals. Your goals must clearly spell out what it is that you will do, how much of it you plan on doing, when you plan on doing it and for how long. An example of a non-specific health goal would be, “I would like to lose 10lb in the next eight weeks”. However, a SMART goal is, “For the next eight weeks I will walk for 30 minutes during my lunch hour (Between 1 to 2PM) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.” This goal spells out a specific action which, is measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.
Write down your Goals: “The goals we write down are the goals we keep.”, I couldn’t agree with this statement more as writing down our goals makes them tangible therefore serving as daily reminders to prompt us to action.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
– Arthur Ashe
Start Where you are: Once your reason for seeking a change is clear, it is important to “start where you are and use what you have”. Let’s say that your goal is to walk 30 minutes per day but you never seem to have a straight 30 minutes time block available during your busy day, then you could change your goal to 15 minutes walks twice a day or 10 minutes walks three times a day which will help you meet your goal.
Expect bumps on the Road: With any changes we set out to do, there is a high probability of setbacks or relapses, that is part of the change process. Indeed, in many cases these setbacks have their purposes, meant to help us take a breath, regroup, reflect and recommit to our goal.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
- Lao Tzu
Celebrate small victories: During the process of change, it important to acknowledge and celebrate victories big and small. Like Lao Tzu so eloquently puts it, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Acknowledge your Efforts: Before you set out to achieve new goals, acknowledge your efforts, creativity and tenacity. Realize that other people successes may look different from yours and keep your “Why’ in the forefront when evaluating your own personal successes.
Have a Happy Goal Setting and a Successful New Year!
https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/ - Nutrition
https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/ - Physical Activity