As a registered nurse and certified health coach, designing goals to maximize health, wellness, and prevention is a year-round endeavor for me, not just reserved for the January holiday hangover. One thing that I’ve discovered over the last few years is that meaningful lifestyle changes are nearly always sabotaged by our ‘bigger is better’ mentality. The truth is, when it comes to your health, small, sustainable changes carry the highest value. Here, I will share five steps to keep this year’s health goals attainable and grounded in reality.
Before we delve these steps in detail, a public service announcement: your 2018 health goals don’t have to have anything to do with the physical space that your body inhabits. Whether your body composition is ideal, suboptimal, or barely a blip on your mental radar, there is nearly always a number of smaller, better goals to be targeted for such a profound undertaking as transforming your physical self.
So if ‘lose sixty pounds’ is your New Year’s resolution, I am here to tell you: go small or go home. What’s more effective: a broad, sweeping resolution that you cast aside in six weeks (or less) or a habit of walking off of your train one stop early that you sustain for the remainder of the year?
So, how do we swap out the People magazine cover transformation goals for the goals that leave you basking in the warm glow of your accomplishments next December? Here I proffer a step by step guide to actually getting to where you want to be and making it last:
The first day of the year feels, to borrow from OutKast, so fresh and so clean.for many, though, it’s just another day on the calendar. If the first of January doesnt resonate with you, then pick a date that does.
Maybe your journey begins on the first Monday that you are back to work and will relish the return of more structure to your day. Or perhaps some symbolism motivates you—start on the birthday of the person who inspires you to make a change. I have started new journeys the day after Christmas. By New Year’s Day, it felt like I had a leg up on everybody—sort of like waking up extra early when everyone else is still sleeping.
Take a look at your calendar and select a day on which, after an honest self-evaluation, you will feel the most momentum urging you forward.
Extrinsic motivation— doing something because someone else wants you to—wears thin pretty fast. It was true when you were a kid being forced to play a sport or an instrument that you weren’t passionate about and refused to practice, and it remains true now. You might have to dig around for this one, but ask yourself why you really want and need to shift your behaviors in a way that changes your overall lifestyle. It’s okay for your end goal to change at this point; it means you’ve thought it through.
Perhaps your ‘big why’ is because you want to keep up with your toddler; someone else’s might be because their 10-year-old self always wanted to ride a bicycle through Paris. There are as many big why’s as there are people, many more in fact, because of our multitude of dreams, ambitions, and desires.
Whatever your big why is, make it tangible.
Every New Year’s Day that we mark is a reminder that we’ve been gifted an entire year to live with purpose. Go live your gift.