At the start of a new year, many people begin to set resolutions. Whether the goal is to focus on positive behaviors or refrain from negative thoughts, most people start with great intentions; however, the momentum soon fades and old habits resurface.
We set goals for a reason—we recognize an opportunity for improvement within ourselves, and we want to make a change. So how can we set ourselves up for success? When setting goals, consider the following strategies:
Be specific. Instead of saying, “I’m going to start eating better,” consider how you can achieve this goal. Maybe you want to increase your vegetable intake by two servings each day, or you choose to use whole-grain bread instead of white bread.
Be realistic. Avoid creating goals that are out of reach so as not to set yourself up for failure. A good example of an unrealistic goal is deciding to lose 20 pounds by the end of the month. Set smaller, more realistic goals, such as losing one to two pounds each week, by decreasing portion sizes of high-calorie foods and increasing physical activity. Always keep long-term goals in mind to stay motivated.
Write your goals down and track your progress. Having your goals written down in black and white is a powerful exercise in helping you stick with them. Keep your goals in a visible place, such as on the refrigerator. Setting daily reminders for yourself, such as on your cell phone, can be a great way to stay on track. Many apps are available to help you track nutrition and physical activity.
Add and revise goals as time goes on. You may have realized that adding a vegetable with lunch was much easier than you expected. Push yourself even further by setting new goals once you have accomplished your previous ones.
Don’t wait to improve. No rule exists that says you must wait until next week or even next year to start making positive lifestyle changes. Why wait? Your fresh start can begin today.