How to Get Long-Lasting Results From Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions
January 2, 2020
The New Year is a time when millions of Americans decide to change unhealthy behaviors and adopt healthy habits, but few people maintain their resolutions. As with any goal, it can be difficult to stay on track and achieve the final results. How can you stay focused and achieve your New Year’s health resolutions?
Bigger goals like, “I want to quit smoking,” can seem overwhelming. Consider breaking up bigger goals into smaller goals that are more easily attainable. For example, “This year, I want to smoke one less cigarette a week,” is a smaller more easily attainable goal that can be adjusted until you reach the bigger goal of quitting smoking.
Other examples of smaller, achievable goals include:
- Taking your medication on time
- Making an appointment with your general practitioner for a general physical
- Walking for 15 minutes a day
- Drinking one glass of water in the morning
Define Specific Goals
When defining health goals, it’s helpful to set measurable and achievable goals. For example, “I want to lose weight” is not very specific, and “I want to lose 100 pounds in 2020”, is not very realistic. However, “I want to lose five pounds every two months, in order to lose 30 pounds within a year,” is a specific and realistic goal.
Focus on One Goal at a Time
A long list of goals that incorporates new habits can be daunting. It can lead you to be more stressed, exhausted, and distracted than you were before, and may even lead to feelings of failure and guilt. It’s not necessary, or even possible, to change every bad habit you want to change or start every good habit you want to start, beginning January 1st without slipping. Instead, focus on one goal at a time. Once you’ve achieved the first goal, then move on to the next one.
Making changes requires a lot of attention and energy and does not come without challenges. Having support when things seem difficult can make a big difference between reaching your health goals and not.
Before starting your health journey, reach out to friends and/or family members and ask if they will support you throughout this process. Tell them exactly how they can support you: One day you may need some encouragement, or you may just need someone to help you with accountability (for example, maybe you need someone to send a message to once you’ve completed your goal each day).
Reaching any goal means passing many milestones along the way. It’s important to celebrate these milestones and recognize the hard work that goes into making a daily commitment. You can celebrate milestones by treating yourself to a gift or by sharing your success with a friend over lunch or coffee. Celebrating milestones can help build self-confidence and help motivate you to continue working towards your health goals.
In addition to celebrating milestones, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process. If you miss a day or two, your goal will not be ruined. Remind yourself that no one is perfect and continue working on your New Year’s resolutions the following day.