While there is no time like the present to get started with new behaviours, setting resolutions for the new year is a time old tradition. Unfortunately, many of these resolutions often get abandoned after a few weeks because of the high expectation we put on ourselves and perhaps the unattainable nature of our resolutions.
If you want to achieve certain things with your health next year, we suggest setting some achievable goals using these tips.
Find your purpose
A big part of achieving the goals you set for yourself is finding your “why”. If you decide you want to go to the gym just because you should or because everyone else seems to be doing it, the chances of you sticking to your routine are pretty slim.
Have a good think about the goals you have for 2023 and then write down a list of reasons why you want to achieve them. Include both short term reasons and long term reasons but be truthful. It’s important to find your purpose.
For the gym, perhaps it is because you want to go travelling next year and want to feel fit enough to walk around all day. Perhaps it’s because you want to feel more confident for that high school reunion coming up. Perhaps it’s because you are planning to babysit your active grandkids and want to keep up with them.
If you are struggling to find your “why”, try imagining yourself ten years in the future. In the first scenario, it is ten years from now and you haven’t changed anything or achieved your 2023 goals. What does that look like? How do you feel? What does that version of you mean?
In the second scenario, it’s ten years from now and you have reached your goals and kept setting new ones for the subsequent years. How different does your life look? Did you save money? Did you go somewhere new? Did you meet new people?
Use this as your motivation and purpose for change.
One of the biggest mistakes we make when setting goals for the new year is choosing unrealistic and unachievable expectations. If you are currently feeling a little overweight and have told yourself you need to look like Chris Hemsworth by June, your chances of failing are high and therefore your chances of sticking to your goals are low.
Aim low but try to be realistic with yourself. Do a bit of research or ask a health practitioner what they think a reasonable timeframe for your goals are and what kind of pace of change would you need to commit to to achieve them.
When setting your goals, think about your work, study and home life commitments. How big of a change would you need to make in these areas to allow for the activities needed to reach your goals? If too many aspects of your life need to change to reach one goal, this can be really off putting because it is hard to stick to.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. This means, your goals will be easier to achieve if they become part of your lifestyle rather than something you are struggling through for a certain amount of time.
Landmarks to reach
We understand that building a house takes time and we understand that getting a degree or working our way up the corporate ladder takes time but for some reason we all expect our health goals to happen overnight. It has often taken you many months or years to get to your current position, it will likely take that long to get out of it.
Having long-term goals is wonderful, however, because health changes are often very gradual, it can be hard to see your progress over time. Setting yourself small short-term goals within your larger long-term goal.
To use the examples above regarding losing weight. If you want to drop 10 kilos next year but it gets to June and you’ve only lost 3 kilos, it can feel like you are not on track. This is often when the whole goal gets dropped because it’s too hard. Instead, why not set yourself small targets like 500 grams each month.
How much more motivating would it be to reach a goal every month than having to wait until next December to see if you failed or not!
With most things in life, we enjoy sharing our experience of something with someone else. Whether that be a holiday, a promotion, a birthday or some other major life decision. Having our loved ones with us makes the experience all the more special.
This also goes for health goals. If we share our goals with other people, not only does that hold us accountable but it gives us a supportive group of cheerleaders to keep us motivated. Struggling in silence might feel safer to our egos but we carry that burden alone which makes it that much bigger. If we share the burden, we let go of some of its weight.
Another benefit of including others in your health goals is that they might join you. You’ve been thinking about eating less meat, how wonderful would it be if your partner also decided to make that their health goal for the year? You can share your experiences with each other and any tips that made the journey a little easier.
Celebrate the wins
This is one of the most important points to take away from this blog. You need to give yourself a pat on the back when you actually reach your goal. If you don’t acknowledge how far you have come, what are the chances of you feeling motivated to set more goals for the future?
Try not to compare yourself to someone who is in a different position to you. If your goal was to lose 5 kilos and that’s what you lost but your friend lost 6 kilos, that does not make your achievement any less valid than theirs. You can be proud of yourself and them at the same time.
Every little win counts. Don’t worry if it feels silly and insignificant, it’s not. Give yourself permission to celebrate and be proud of your achievements. Pick an activity to celebrate that really heroes your achievement rather than undoes all of your hard work.
Go to see a movie
Have dinner with a loved one
Buy yourself a bunch of flowers
Treat yourself to something you’ve wanted for a while
Setting goals for your health can be a really fun experience, it doesn’t have to be as hard as what you might think. It’s also OK to change your goals over time or to not have any goals in the first place. Don’t force yourself to choose something just because the 1st of January has come around again.
Be intentional and give it a good go but also enjoy yourself.
Have a Happy New Year!