The new year is a time many of us decide to draw a line in the sand and make a commitment to new health habits. The problem with lines in the sand? It doesn’t take much for them to get brushed away. So if you’re looking to make changes for the better this year, how can you have the best chance to make them stick?
1. Make your goals SMART.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Put simply, be clear with what your goals are and how you’re going to know if you’ve met them. Make sure they’re realistic (you might need a number of smaller SMART goals to reach a bigger one), and know how they’ll help you to get what you want and when you plan to reach them.
2. Really think about how they fit your life.
If your goal is to get fit, choosing to do this by swimming might not be the best option if your closest pool or beach is an hour away. Your goals will be difficult but you don’t have to make them more difficult! Be honest and choose strategies with the fewest obstacles to help you achieve them.
3. Plan for the roadblocks before you hit them.
If your plan is to eat more healthy, home-cooked food, plan how you’ll deal with those busy days when you’re time poor. If your goal involves getting more active, plan out what you’ll do on hot days, cold days, wet days, etc.
4. Tell others.
Social pressures can be one of the biggest roadblocks to making healthy changes stick.
It’s that work morning tea and the slice of cake that lands on your desk or you plan to go for a run after work but your friends ask you to come over early for a barbecue. Most people aren’t trying to sabotage your attempts; in fact, they want to help. Let people know what you’re trying to achieve and you’ll be surprised how accommodating people will be. Who knows—you might even inspire others to make a change!
Our favourite quick ideas for SMART goals to get you started
Eat veggies. I will eat at least 5 servings (½ cup) of vegetables every day by eating 3 serves at lunch and 2 serves at dinner.
Walk every day. I will go for a 30-minute walk every day to improve my fitness.
Meditate. I will take 10 minutes every morning to quietly reflect on what I’m thankful for to help with managing my stress levels.
Sleep. I will develop a consistent bed-time routine to help improve my sleep quality.