Already thinking of ways to improve your health and wellness in 2020? No need to wait until the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day! Get started creating those healthy resolutions today.
In fact, planning ahead and preparing can help set you up for success when the new year rolls around. Too often, we barrel full steam ahead toward a new resolution in a new year, without giving much advance thought to what will be required to achieve that resolution.
So, let’s do the legwork now—and then you can dive right in on January 1.
Step 1: Choose Your Healthy Resolutions
The first step in setting goals for your health is determining what needs to be improved upon. That will differ for every person based on your individual health and wellness, as well as your lifestyle and family medical history.
In general, though, there are some basics that most of us could benefit from. Consider these ideas for healthy resolutions:
- Get more exercise.
- Eat a healthier diet.
- Drink more water.
- Limit salt and sugar intake.
- Get more quality sleep.
So choose a healthy resolution or two that you believe you can stick with for the long-term.
Step 2: Make Your Healthy Resolutions S.M.A.R.T.
Did you know that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the time February rolls around? That’s why you should create smart resolutions. And no, in this case, we don’t mean “smart” as in intelligent. We mean S.M.A.R.T.
In the 1980s, this method of goal-planning was created, designed to help people find success in achieving goals. It’s pretty simple, actually. In order to set yourself on the path toward achieving your healthy resolutions, make them:
- Specific—Instead of setting broad goals, like getting more exercise, make your resolutions more specific. If more exercise is your big-picture goal, make your resolution to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days each week.
- Measurable—Determine in advance how you’re going to track your achievements. For example, if you’re aiming to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, create some system of keeping track, such as a paper or digital calendar, or an app.
- Achievable—This part might be most important. This is one case where “aiming for the stars” probably isn’t the best strategy. You want to set healthy resolutions for yourself that can actually be accomplished. If the goals aren’t realistic, you are much less likely to be able to find any level of success and much more likely to quit.
- Relevant—Set your healthy resolutions based on your needs and your lifestyle, not on the latest fads or what your friends are doing. You want your goals to be specific and relevant for you and your needs.
- Time-Bound—This one is a little different for a health-related resolution than for other goals. That’s because, in many cases, health resolutions can be achieved relatively quickly but should be maintained for the long-term, rather than the goal being the end result. You may want to set a goal to exercise five times a week for two months—but be sure to then reset and keep going!
Step 3: Break Your Healthy Resolutions Into Bitesize Goals
Let’s assume that you don’t usually exercise regularly. If your healthy resolution for 2020 is to get more exercise and you set a goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week, that can be a lot at first!
Instead, build up to your big goal with some smaller goals. Using a calendar or a planner, plot out a timeframe in which you can build up to your big goal.
In weeks 1–2 for example, your goal might be to get in two 30-minute workouts a week. In weeks 3–4, build on that with a goal to get in three or four 30-minute workouts a week. By the time you hit February, you’ll be right on track for your big goal of five workouts per week.
From there, you can expand your goals even further—keeping the original goal as your overall target. You might aim for longer workouts, you might vary the exercises you’re doing, you might incorporate strength training alongside cardio, or you might bump up the intensity in those workouts.
This same “bitesize” goal philosophy will work for all resolutions. And setting those smaller goals will help you to stay continuously challenged and motivated. Be sure to celebrate your successes along the way—it’ll give you the oomph you need to find even more success in your health and wellness.
Getting started on those healthy resolutions? A checkup with your doctor is a good first step. Find a doctor here.