The beginning of a new year is a common time when many of us set new goals. Most of us have the best of intentions at the start of the year, however we may face a challenge or lose motivation that hinders our success in achieving or attaining what we intended to accomplish. Let this year be different by planting 3 practical strategies into your goals while developing new habits. Begin with one of the 3 suggestions below or create your own to make this year different to ensure your success.
- Create a list on why making these changes are important to you. This is a step that should not be overlooked. Consider looking within and really thinking about what is most important to you and how it aligns with your values. When you tie a goal to your values you are more likely to achieve it. Place this list of reasons for change in a location where you will regularly view it, such as the home screen on your phone, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or car, to help you remember the why behind your goal. When you determine why your goal is important to you, it makes all the difference to help you succeed.
- Set realistic expectations and modify steps if needed. Practice balance by starting small and gradually increasing desired changes in order to set yourself up for success. It may even be necessary to adjust your goal if you find it is not based on realistic expectations. For example, you may have started the new year off with an intention to move more. Your SMART goal may have looked like this one: I will walk 5 times a week for 30 minutes every evening. However, after two weeks you have consistently fallen short due to other commitments and have walked 3 times a week for 30 minutes. It is ok to modify your goal with steps to ultimately achieve walking 5 times a week for 30 minutes. You can adjust your goal to walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes and park farther away from the entrance to your office, school, or store. You may even consider looking for opportunities to increase your movement throughout the day in shorter durations, such as walking 3 times a week for 30 minutes in the evening and walking 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes during lunch to increase your walking to 4 times a week for 30 minutes. The key takeaway here is to keep an open mind and modify your goal versus giving up altogether.
- Look for the positive in every situation. Stay positive and harness the benefits of positive thinking. If you were not as successful as you had hoped with your goal this week, focus on where you were successful. For example, let’s use the example above where you set a goal to walk 5 times a week for 30 minutes, but instead you achieved 3 times a week for 30 minutes instead. Celebrate that you were 60% successful towards achieving your goal. Achieving 60% of your goal is better than 30% or 0%. Explore what contributed to your success the 3 times you did walk for 30 minutes that week. When you explore how you were successful it may allow you to increase your success on other days. If positive thinking does not come naturally to you, Mayo Clinic has an incredible article on positive thinking and how to stop negative self-talk.
If you’re interested in understanding more about habits and why they are important to our health, read more about that here at our Cecelia Health blog. More enjoyable reading on tips for creating healthy habits can be viewed on NIH News in Health article titled “Creating Healthy Habits, Make Better Choices".
Make lasting change this year by planting 3 practical strategies into your goals while developing new habits. Create a list on why making these changes are important to you, set realistic expectations and modify steps if needed, and look for the positive in every situation.