It's that time of year again. Are you one of the millions who make grand resolutions every new year, only to find yourself two weeks in, already unmotivated and struggling to keep up with them? This blog will give you insight into why resolutions may not be an effective way to reach your health goals, as well as offer tips on how setting realistic goals instead might help you get closer to achieving a healthier version of yourself in 2023.
The Power of Goals vs Resolutions
Goals are more effective when making lasting changes in your health than resolutions. Resolutions tend to be broken because they are often based on fleeting motivation and frequently lack a concrete plan. Conversely, goals are more likely to be achieved because they are specific and measurable.
Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. For example, rather than resolving to "lose weight," which is the most common resolution of all resolutions ever, set a goal to "lose 10 pounds by June."
Adding specificity to a goal helps make it real. 'Lose weight' alone may not help you stay on track. This goal is also measurable since you have pinned a number to it. In addition, goals should be achievable. If your goal is too lofty or unrealistic, you will likely get discouraged and give up. But if your goal is something you know you can realistically achieve, you'll be more motivated to stick with it. Is your goal relevant? Understanding your 'why' for this goal will help with sustainability and adhering to your action plan. Finally, setting a timeline gives you a start, end point, and timeframe for smaller goals to keep you motivated.
The world is seemingly obsessed with removing foods from our diets when we all could do with the nutrition add-in of a fruit or veggie. So here's another example; instead of resolving to 'eat healthier' in 2023, make it specific. You don't eat enough fruits and vegetables (most of us don't), so plan to eat one piece of fruit daily or add one cup of spinach to your salad.
'Get in Shape' type resolutions are another popular but vague and hard-to-stick-to
resolution. They're often based on emotion, like guilt or disappointment, which can fizzle out quickly. So just like losing weight, set a specific goal instead of making a resolution. For example, if your goal is to be more physically active, choose a realistic activity you can do regularly and plan how to fit it into your schedule. Start small and build up gradually. If you're not used to exercising, start with 10 minutes a day and add 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes a day.
It's also important to be specific about when and where you'll do your new activity. For example, "I will walk for 30 minutes after dinner on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights." Then put it in your calendar or set a reminder on your phone so you don't forget.
Setting goals instead of resolutions may help you reach your best personal health and well-being without setting yourself up for disappointment. Celebrate each success, no matter how small; this will help make achieving long-term change easier; celebrating along the way is a cause for refreshed motivation. Good luck!