Setting goals or resolutions is a tradition for most people at the start of every new year. Some people would rather avoid making resolutions; others find them empowering and motivating. But no matter your approach, having clearly defined goals is a great way to keep learning, growing and enhancing your life. Try a few of these tips and you might find it’s actually fun to work on healthy goals and lifestyle habits that can improve your life.
Set milestones that lead to bigger goals. Many goals — from running a 5K to mastering healthy cooking — require time and patience. Start with small, achievable commitments that will help you develop the skills, strength or expertise you need to reach your ultimate goals. Trying one new recipe a week or running for 30 minutes twice a week are examples of specific and realistic goals that increase your chances for long-term success. You’ll likely find that making small but consistent efforts is enough to ensure progress, help boost confidence and keep you motivated throughout the year.
Dedicate yourself to a schedule. With quarantines and stay-at-home mandates last year, many people struggled to keep consistent sleep and work schedules. Try dedicating the first several weeks of the new year to establishing and maintaining a schedule that will get you back to a healthy routine. Perhaps start every day by making your bed and eating a nutritious breakfast — or plan and prepare a healthy lunch the night before to make it easy to eat at regular times. Find ways to establish a routine during these first few weeks, and you might be surprised by how much more you can get out of each day.
Try a new form of exercise. Have you ever wanted to try zumba, kickboxing or soul cycling? Trying new things can be intimidating, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can lead to confidence, growth and a sense of satisfaction. Who knows, it could become your new favorite thing! There is a wide selection of free and paid apps that can get you started.
Learn how to meditate. You don’t need to take a class or join a group to start meditating. There are dozens of highly rated apps you can download (many of them free) and many guided routines are available online. Try dedicating a specific time each day for calming and centering yourself in the midst of even the busiest and most stressful days. Taking time to meditate, focus on your breathing and clear your mind can help increase your focus and improve creativity and productivity. But the health benefits go well beyond that: meditation can also help you sleep, improve your heart health and even reduce your risk for many diseases.
Making habits stick
Once you’ve chosen a goal, here comes the hard part: keeping it. Try some of these tips to stay on track:
- Set a repeating alarm or event notice on your phone. Want to ensure you get your daily stretching session in? Set a reminder!
- Track, measure and record your results. Just logging the miles or minutes you run in a week, or writing down what you learned from a new recipe, is an easy way to document your progress and keep you focused on your goal.
- Find an exercise buddy. Whether it’s virtual or someone in your household, having someone to exercise or compete with helps keep you accountable and increases your chances of sticking with it.
- Put up a note. Put an inspiring quote or reminder in your car or home; somewhere you’re bound to see it. Having a visual reminder reinforces the importance of what you are doing — and why!
- Define your purpose. Why do you want to acquire new skills or achieve a certain milestone? No matter how committed you are to your goals, there will be challenges along the way. But if you have a clear purpose for your journey, it’ll be easier to stay the course when you are tired, discouraged or even bored.
Remember that failures and setbacks are inevitable and part of the process. Just keep trying! It’s the small and simple things — done consistently — that establish a life of healthy living.
This article first appeared in the January 2021 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.