By: Catherine Hill MS, RD, LDN
Did you know that more Americans commit to a “New Year’s resolution” than those who watch the Super Bowl? Self-improvement, or some momentum in that direction, is big business in America and no time is that more apparent than in January. Unfortunately, only 8% of those who make resolutions achieve them. As we close out the 2017 holiday season, here are 10 tips to help you “commit and not quit” your health-related New Year’s resolution.
The first 5 tips center around the concept of SMART goals:
- Measurable: ask yourself -how much? -how many times? -how will I know when I have achieved my goal? Tracking daily or weekly progress is a great way to measure your specific goal.
- Attainable: set yourself up for success by assuring the steps needed to get to your specific goal are thing you have control over! Make sure it is realistic. Be reasonable and thoughtful about your abilities to achieve your specific goal.
- Relevant: why is this goal applicable to your life?
You will potentially spend a great deal of time and effort moving towards your specific goal, so be sure it is something you want and want to work for.
- Time Based: when do you want to achieve this goal? This goes back to your specific goal being attainable. Set a reasonable time frame to hold yourself accountable. Think of some milestones along the way to aim for.
Okay – now that you have a SMART goal for 2018, let’s look at some tips to help you keep those resolutions.
1. Buddy system- regardless of your health goal, including social support as an accountability measure can increase your success rate.
- Can friends or family participate with you?
- Would telling your friends or family about your goals help keep you accountable?
- Could your work family get involved?
2. Bust through barriers- you may find that you are highly motivated towards your 2018 health goals at this moment… but what about down the road? In the spirit of positive thinking and goal setting, brainstorm a few obstacles that may arise and plan potential solutions. That way if the road gets bumpy, you will have a predetermined road map!
- Example SMART goal: improving my physical fitness by going to the gym 150 minutes per week for the next 3 months
- Potential barrier: if I am away from home or cannot physically make it to the gym
- Potential solution: I will dust off a workout video tape and do it at home or utilize the hotel gym/outdoors wherever I am
3. Resolve to rest! Allowing yourself to amend or change your action steps along the way will help keep you on track if
you run into unforeseen issues. Instead of giving up, try to reset your goal or action steps to still align with your overall goal.
- Example SMART goal: to improve overall nutrition and lose weight by cooking at home 5 nights a week
- You realized along the way that cooking 5 nights a week worked for a while, but is no longer realistic. Instead of giving up on your goal to improve overall nutrition and lose weight, think of ways to amend your action steps to be more realistic. Maybe cooking just 2 nights per week, but preparing enough to have leftovers on the other nights.
4. Woops… wrong turn! There are bound to be times when other responsibilities get in the way of you achieving your goals: family commitments, illness, busy period at works, etc. At these times, your goal may have to take a backseat due to issues that are out of your control. Not to worry – this is a completely normal aspect of adulthood. So, how do you get back on track?
- Timing: be sure that the other responsibilities have slowed down enough that you are able to prioritize your health goals again.
- Remember: think back to this moment in time to help remind yourself the reasons you wanted to achieve your health goals.
- Look back: make a list of what you’ve achieved so far. No item is too small!!
- Look forward: think ahead 3 months, 6 months, a year. By continuing to work on your health goals, list ways that you will be a different person at those times.
- Start small: implement past successes to create momentum that will help drive you towards your goals.
5. Stop and smell the roses – Many times, all we need to keep going is a pat on the back. Along the way, acknowledge any efforts made toward your goal instead of viewing the whole scenario as a success or failure.
- Most people offer more kindness, praise, warmth, and positive affirmations to friends than we do ourselves. Try being a friend yourself during this process!