Every year in December and January, many people sit down to create their New Year’s resolutions. At the beginning of 2021, an estimated 74 percent of the US population said they were determined to set a personal goal to better themselves, and some of the most common resolutions had a lot to do with health and wellness: exercising more, improving their fitness, losing weight, improving their diet, etc.
Of all the people who make resolutions in the new year, only about 9 percent of them feel they’re successful in keeping them by the end of the year. So, the question is this: Why aren’t people keeping their goals after they set them? Well, there are a few reasons why this happens so often. In one study from 2014, 35 percent of participants said they failed their resolutions because they had unrealistic goals, 33 percent of them didn’t keep track of their progress, 23 percent forgot about their resolutions completely, and 10 percent simply made too many of them.
Luckily, there are several ways to combat these issues and ensure you can actually accomplish your health goals. Are you hoping to improve your health in 2022? Here are five essential tips to ensure that you not only set great goals but also achieve them in the upcoming year.
Set SMART Goals
One of the most important aspects of achieving your resolutions is to set goals that you can attain. The best way to ensure that your goals are achievable is to break them down based on the SMART acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Here’s what to do to ensure that every goal meets each of these requirements:
- Specific: State exactly what you want to do, including who, what, when, and where you’ll achieve it.
- Measurable: Identify a way to measure your success as you work towards attaining your goal. For example, if you want to work out more, identify how you’ll track progress, like how many times a week you exercise.
- Attainable: Make sure your goal is something that you have resources, time, finances, and equipment to complete.
- Relevant: Your goal should always be reasonable, realistic, resourced, and results-based.
- Time-bound: Identify the exact time period in which you would like to achieve your goal. Then, break down what you’ll be able to do now, in six weeks, and six months from now to help yourself track progress.
If your goals have these characteristics, you will set yourself up for success from the beginning by ensuring that they’re something you’ll realistically be able to accomplish.
Define Your Motivation
Before you decide to pursue your health goals, consider why you want to achieve them. For example, if your resolution is to sleep better at night, make sure you understand why you want to. Do your research, identify personal reasons behind your goal, and write all the reasons behind your motivation down. That way, the next time you want to stay up late or watch a show too close to bedtime, you can check back in with your notes and remind yourself why the effort matters.
Without internal motivation, you’ll find yourself wishing to give up quickly after setting your goal, so make sure that you identify with your reasons and that they’re rooted in your deeper desires, lifestyle, and personality. If your goals are rooted in yourself, you’ll be much more likely to follow through with them.
Prepare for Setbacks
It’s easy to let one small setback spiral out of control and cause you to self-sabotage. However, they’re unavoidable: If your goal is to make lasting changes to live a healthier life, you’re going to face a few roadblocks and mistakes along the way. The truth is that it’s easy to become so focused on the outcome that you forget about everything you have to do along the way. In order to avoid letting setbacks get in the way of your success, plan ahead for them. As long as you’re prepared for them, you’ll know exactly what to do when they arise.
When you lose steam, slip up, or get overwhelmed, don’t give up. Instead, sit down with yourself and remember why you started. This is part of the reason why defining your motivation is so important. When you understand why your core values influence your goal, it’ll be easier to jump back on the horse and keep yourself motivated. Then, identify how you’ll recommit yourself to your goal and write it down. The physical act of writing down what you want to accomplish can have a powerful impact on your ability to actually follow through on them.
As you move forward after your roadblocks, remember to focus on progress instead of perfection. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s not about perfectly achieving your goal: It’s about taking steps towards being the person you want to be. So, every time you lack motivation, remember how much progress you’ve made rather than dwelling on your mistakes.
Take Your Time
Slow, consistent progress is going to help you stick to your goals much better than taking on too much and overwhelming yourself. Time management will be essential as you work on your health goals, so don’t try to achieve everything too quickly. If you put too much pressure on yourself to perform well straight out of the gate, you may even feel too overwhelmed to begin.
Similarly, if you don’t have balance in your life and instead focus all your attention on your goals, you’re much more likely to feel stressed and burn out—even if you’re able to juggle your responsibilities. Instead of ignoring other areas of your life, slow down, take your time, and set up a time management system that will help you get things done, as well as prioritize personal and family time.
Setting and achieving your goals doesn’t need to be all work and no play. As you engage with your progress, remember to celebrate your successes—both big and small. Celebrating and rewarding yourself can be a powerful way to keep yourself motivated throughout the process. On the other hand, continuing to push yourself without recognizing your success can have the opposite effect.
Rewards don’t necessarily need to be extravagant to be effective. For example, something as simple as treating yourself to your favorite coffee, watching a few episodes of a show guilt-free, or buying yourself a book you’ve been meaning to read can all be great ways to reward yourself for a job well done! Here are just a few more healthy ways to reward yourself that will keep you on track for your health goals:
- See a new movie
- Spend time with a friend or family member
- Buy a plant for your workspace
- Go on a hike
- Purchase a new outfit to exercise in
- Take a mental health day off from work
However you choose to reward yourself, don’t neglect this aspect of achieving your goals. Not only will you have more fun while working hard but you’ll also be more successful.
When it comes to health-related resolutions, it can be especially challenging to stick with your goals and actually achieve them. So, as you sit down this month and next to figure out how you can be better in the new year, keep these important tips in mind: Set SMART goals, define your motivation, prepare for setbacks, take your time, and reward yourself. That way, you’ll have a real shot at improving your overall health in 2022!