With the new year upon us it’s only natural to think about areas of our life we would like to improve upon, especially when it comes to our health. This is a great time to reflect on the past year and to map out where you’d like to be. However, all too often I find most of my clients set vague or unrealistic goals although the intention is good. Things like “I want to be healthier” or “I’m going to prepare all my meals at home.” This not only sets us up for failure, but also disappointment when we’re unable to implement and sustain unrealistic changes.
A different approach I would recommend is this: Get specific. Reflect on what you want to be different, whether that is to “get healthier, eat better, move more, stress less…” and narrow it down from there. Start by picking one or two concrete goals. For example, going to bed by 10pm during the week, eating a serving of vegetables at dinner 3x/week, packing lunch 2x/week, or walking 15 min 5x/week. Consider what area seems the most practical to change right now.
Once you have a specific goal in mind there are a few other things to consider. You can ask yourself is this change achievable? Do I have the skills, equipment, resources, and time to accomplish this goal? Additionally, is this goal realistic for the here and now? Maybe you’d like to prepare more meals at home, but with your current schedule you get home late most nights. It doesn’t mean you can’t be working towards incorporating more meals from home. Maybe instead of aiming to cook 5 nights per week you start at 1 or 2 nights.
Once you’ve narrowed down a specific goal and made sure it was achievable and realistic it’s time to take action. Formulate a plan for your goal. This is often the area we don’t spend enough time on. Take our example, if we plan to pack lunch 2x per week what will that look like? Will you be packing leftovers or making something else? Do you have a lunchbox, or containers to take with you? What do you need to get from the grocery store to be prepared? What two days would be the easiest to pack lunch? Try to be as detailed as possible so you know what you need to do.
Lastly, track and monitor your progress. Recognize that changing behaviors and implementing habits takes time and you will experience setbacks. It’s important to be flexible and by monitoring when you’re successful and when you are not, you can adjust as needed.
Also, a few other helpful tips & tricks include:
- Accountability – making a change with someone else oftentimes makes us more successful (ie. Plan to walk with a friend or try a new workout class together
- Think about how this change will affect you internally – all too often we focus on the external “results”, but spend some time thinking how this change will help you internally. Will you have more energy, experience less stress…
- Schedule what you can (what days you plan to work out, or days you will pack your lunches) so it becomes part of your routine
- Utilize apps to stay on track and monitor your progress. Some apps include:
- Habit Hub
Your future self will thank you!
If you’d like assistance on your journey to well-being or with changing habits contact Erin @ firstname.lastname@example.org.