Each new year, millions of people across the country make a resolution to be healthy. Usually, this goal centers around working out more, eating healthy, or improving mental health. Unfortunately, millions of people also abandon their resolutions a few months in. There are many reasons why this might happen, from changing life circumstances to frustration with a lack of results. Something that people might have in common when they give up on health goals is not setting effective plans in the first place.
How you decide on your goals is just as important as the process to achieve them. While there may be other reasons why people miss out on their dreams, the right strategy can help keep you on track with what you want to accomplish.
What does it take to set realistic goals that you can achieve for your wellness journey? Let’s take a look at some tips you should follow as you ponder this topic.
Specificity is Key
Having a clear benchmark that you want to reach is incredibly important. Imagine you are participating in archery and your goal is to improve your skills. You get your bow, your arrows, and set up to start shooting down the range. Then you realize, there are no targets to aim for. All you can do is start shooting at nothing, which will not help you become more accurate. If there is not a clear target for your goals, then it can be hard to figure out how to reach them. There are plenty of signs of good health, but having something vague like “lose weight” or “improve mental health” might not be specific enough to provide a clear vision of success. When you first lay out your goals, be specific with the benchmarks you want to achieve. Have a number in mind for a target weight, or a specific practice that you want to do three times a week to support mental health.
Perhaps the main reason why people fail to reach their goals is because they had unrealistic expectations of what success could look like. Maybe they set an end goal that is almost impossible for their body type or needs to achieve. Often, people fail to see results as soon as they want to, so their motivation starts to run out because they feel like it is making no difference. For this reason, you need to set goals that are realistic for your lifestyle and body type. If you have a very busy schedule, you may not have the time to train for a marathon next year. Evaluate your current capacity for adopting new healthy behaviors and then set goals that can be reached within those boundaries.
Plan in Increments
While the ambition of an overall goal is important to give you a target to aim for, sometimes focusing only on the big picture can be overwhelming. This is another reason why people get frustrated with a lack of progress. Maybe they have worked hard to get to where they are now, but the initial target feels so far away that it feels like they will never get there. To avoid this obstacle, you should try to craft goals that can be reached in increments. Maybe you want to eat healthy to improve your digestive system. The first step might be preparing healthy breakfasts each morning that provide fiber and other nutrients that promote gut health. Once that goal is achieved, you can add a fiber supplement to your routine. Next, you can do meal planning on the weekends to have lunches or dinners throughout the week that will optimize digestive health. By taking things one step at a time, you will consistently move closer to your overall goal.
Motivation is tough to maintain, especially if you have an ambitious long-term goal. The initial excitement that comes from prioritizing wellness may fade, and you will need a backup plan to stay motivated and on track. Whenever you reach one of those smaller milestones on your journey, be sure to celebrate by rewarding yourself. Come up with an incentive system that works for you. Maybe it means buying something that you have always wanted once you hit a milestone, or splurging on a night out. Pick an activity or reward that will keep you moving toward your overall goal incrementally rather than rewarding yourself only when you have achieved the overall target.
Remember it is Okay to Fail
The most helpful tip to know about pursuing a health goal is to be okay with failing or falling behind. Just because you set a timeframe for your journey does not mean that you have failed because you missed it. Give yourself the grace to mess up or be delayed. The point is to take action that promotes wellness, and you can go at whatever pace you wish. Progress is all about making the next correct decision. If the plan gets derailed, take a moment, breathe, and start again the next day.