It seems that every year millions of people young and old make a New Years’ resolution to get healthier. That’s a lot of resolve which, unfortunately, mostly falls by the wayside. As the January enthusiasm fades and winter months drag on, old habits come sneaking back into the picture. By spring, about 80% of resolutions will be forgotten. That’s an astounding failure rate. Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid becoming part of that sad statistic. Here are five ways you can stay on track toward those health goals you’ve laid out for the new year.
1. Use SMART Goals
A resolution is a sweeping claim about the desired outcome of your efforts. In order to reach that outcome, you must set goals to make it a reality. Unfortunately, not all goals are created equally. SMART goals are the gold standard for creating successful outcomes. A SMART goal will be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to your resolution and limited by time or a deadline. An example of a SMART fitness goal is to say “I will lose exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days per week, for the next two weeks.”
Look at these goals as milestones or markers along the journey. As you reach each one, move the stake a little further out by setting a new goal. They can become a little more challenging — while still staying achievable — as your health and fitness improve.
2. Develop a Plan of Action
With your new SMART goals in hand, you need to develop a plan to move you closer to achieving them. What works for one person may not work for another, so try not to get frustrated if it takes a while to find the right system. For example, some people trying to lose weight may have luck with intermittent fasting, while the Thrive Patch might be a better option for others. A few things that most health and wellness experts agree will help move you closer to better health include increasing your exercise levels, eating more fruits and vegetables, and prioritizing sleep.
3. Track Your Successes
It is easy to rely on the scale to track your fitness goals, but that doesn’t give you a complete or accurate picture of how far you have come. There are other tools that make more sense, and most are available for free or very inexpensively. Start by noticing how your clothes fit. If they are starting to feel looser, you have probably lost a couple of inches, if not any weight. If you have been adding muscle, which is much more dense than fat, you can actually slim down while gaining weight. Reflect on how you feel, both physically and emotionally. Better health often manifests in improved moods and increased energy levels, so you may notice the biggest changes there first. Keeping a fitness journal can help you dive deeper into those thoughts and feelings you experience along the way.
4. Ask for Help When You Need It
There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it is one of the best ways to keep on track toward success. Find a group that is working toward similar goals and make it a point to check in with them. If you need more directed support, talk to a personal trainer or nutritionist to get science-backed advice and guidance. Don’t be intimidated or embarrassed to seek help from a counselor if you need it. They are trained to help you work through difficult situations, and transforming your lifestyle can be a huge challenge.
5. Practice Forgiveness
Even if you hit every goal, you may make some small missteps along the way. You may even regress at some point. That doesn’t mean achieving your resolution is out of reach, so don’t beat yourself up over them. Learn how to practice forgiveness so you can overcome these obstacles.
You can beat the odds and achieve your New Years’ resolution. Set SMART goals, develop a workable plan and find what works for you to start off on the right foot. Seek support and learn to let mistakes go so you can stay on track.