The New Year is quickly approaching and is a great time to focus on setting goals and making healthy lifestyle changes; but how do you decide which healthy habit resolutions are right for you? Even more importantly, how do you ensure that you will meet your goals and maintain healthy habits throughout the year? The key to successful goal setting (and achieving!) all starts with planning.
The Importance of Healthy Habits
Habits are regularly occurring actions, which is why they are instrumental to living a sustainable, healthy life. Forming healthy habits can come with numerous benefits. Depending on the habits you create, the following benefits can be achieved:
Boost your immune system
Ability to combat diseases and certain health conditions
Increase your energy
Improve your mood
Increase longevity and your quality of life
Know Your Current Habits
Before you set a new healthy habit goal, you should be aware of what you are already doing on a regularly basis. This will help you to choose goals that will change your unhealthy habits or create new, healthy ones. Take a few days to track your daily activities and reflect on the changes you want to make.
Choosing A Goal
Remember that not all habits are possible or relevant for all people. Find what you are passionate about and use that passion to inspire your healthy habit journey. Here are some examples of common goals for a healthy lifestyle:
Develop a sustainable, nourishing diet
Sit less and move more
Get more quality sleep
Find a physical activity you enjoy
Create time for self-care
Try a new hobby
Visit your doctor for regular checkups
Limit screen time
Make A Plan
It is important to set SMART goals when thinking about the healthy habits you want to form. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Specific: Setting vague goals leads to vague results. Be sure to clearly define the goal and how you plan to accomplish it at the very beginning.
Measurable: A measurable goal allows you to track your progress and keeps you motivated. For example, instead of “I want to eat more fruits and vegetables,” a measurable goal would be “I want to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.”
Attainable: Being realistic about what you are capable of accomplishing is vital for setting good goals. It is easy for motivation to begin to fizzle when goals are too difficult, but starting with reasonable goals and setting new, bigger goals each time you reach them will keep your motivation going strong.
Relevant: Your goals should align with your values and set you up for success in your long-term objectives. Think about what is important to you and use this as a starting point for creating personalized goals.
Time-bound: You should establish a reasonable time frame in which you would like to accomplish your goals. This helps to track progress and allows you the flexibility to reevaluate your goals and make changes if they have not been reached yet.
For many, staying on track is the most difficult part of reaching goals and creating new habits. To ensure that you stay focused and on the right track, some tips for staying motivated include:
Break big goals into smaller goals: Reaching smaller goals on the path to a larger goal keeps morale high and encourages you to keep going. Having milestones on your path to success keeps you feeling positive and accomplished.
Reward yourself: Periodically rewarding yourself for reaching your goals is great motivation! Rewards can be as big or as small as you want, as long as they make you excited to keep reaching your goals.
Monitor progress: Monitoring your progress will show you just how far you have come on your goal-setting journey. This makes it easy to see when you are doing well and decide if you need to make any changes to your plan.
Establish a routine: Establishing a routine is vital when trying to pick up healthy habits. Doing things on certain days of the week or at the same time each day will help your body adapt to your new lifestyle changes.
Find a support system: Whether it is friends, family, or your community, having people you can rely on to hold you accountable will keep you striving to reach your goals!
Be flexible: Do not be too hard on yourself if you are not seeing the progress you expected. Staying positive and allowing yourself to change a goal or try something new is key to making healthy, long-term lifestyle changes.
Avoid Common Pitfalls
Even with perfect planning, you cannot reach your goals without the proper mindset. There are many things in our lives that can distract us from our goals and keep us from adopting healthy habits. Watch out for these common mistakes that often keep people from reaching their goals.
Comparing yourself to others: It is all too easy to get distracted by others while you are working towards reaching your goals. However, focusing on the achievements of others can be detrimental to your success. Celebrating others’ successes without comparing yourself will allow you to progress and reach your goals at the pace that is right for you, instead of getting distracted by others.
Underestimating time and effort: Underestimating the time and effort required can happen to anyone, but it is important to reevaluate your plan as soon as you realize that the requirements for your goal may not be within your capabilities at this time.
Getting distracted: Life is full of distractions but, if you have planned correctly, none are as important as the goal that you have set for yourself. If this is not the case, consider goals that make you feel happier and more motivated.
Framing negatively: Goals are not punishment. They are rewards for working hard and dedicating your time and effort to something you are passionate about. Framing goals negatively will not only lead to failure but can have a negative effect on your mental health. Instead, choose goals that make you feel happy and motivated.
Allowing the fear of failure to get to you: The idea of failure is scary, but there are ways to overcome this fear. Setting a goal that is realistic and motivating and creating a plan that you trust are the first steps to alleviating the fear of failure. During the process, be flexible and forgiving with yourself. If you allow yourself to set smaller goals on your path to success at any time, you can alleviate the stress and distraction caused by fear.
Seeking perfection: Similarly, to overcoming the fear of failure, do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the need to be perfect. The truth is that nobody is perfect, and no journey to success is perfect either. Releasing unrealistic expectations of yourself frees you to achieve your goals.
Healthy habits are a great way to make a positive impact on your life, but they are not just for New Year’s resolutions! Come back to these healthy habit goal planning tips anytime you want to set yourself up for success.