The start of a new year is a great time to think about the changes you’d like to make to improve your health, happiness and wellbeing.
From eating better, to quitting smoking, to increasing your level of physical activity, new year’s resolutions typically have the best of good intentions, but rarely come to fruition. In fact, some reports state that more than 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail. Fortunately, there are ways to make your resolutions more likely to be successful in the long term. Here are five tips for making your new year's resolutions stick.
1. Keep it simple
Planning drastic lifestyle changes can be daunting, and may be more likely to end in frustration and disappointment. Try focusing on one or two small manageable goals and tackling them one by one. Try to spread your resolutions out throughout the year so that you can build on your changes as time goes on, and make sustainable changes for the long term.
2. Be specific
Avoid vague or broad health goals, such as “I am going to eat better” or “I am going to exercise more”. Instead, try setting specific and measureable goals so that you can hold yourself accountable and avoid setting yourself up for failure. What exactly about your diet do you want to change? Maybe it’s reducing your refined sugar intake by 50% or increasing your vegetable intake by 50%, maybe it’s drinking 8 glasses of water per day. What type of exercise do you want to do more of? How many days each week will you devote time to exercising? Think about specific, measurable targets. For example, you may want to limit yourself to two cans of pop per week or commit to two spin classes each week. Build on these changes throughout the year to achieve even greater health improvements.
3. Be realistic
Whatever goals you choose to set, make them realistic. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but take into consideration your personal challenges, time constraints, and other commitments. It’s demotivating to set a goal of going to the gym seven days a week when you know that Tuesdays and Saturdays you have other commitments – perhaps on these days, a quick walk on your lunch break is a more realistic alternative. A small change that you can stick with in the long term will offer more benefit than a major change that you can only stick with for a few weeks.
4. Schedule it
Plan to achieve your personal health goals the same way you might plan meeting a work-related goal or target. When you’ve made a commitment to focus on your health, stick it in your calendar, and honor the commitment the same way you would an important client meeting. If you want to start exercising more, schedule specific exercise times in your calendar and block the time as “out of office”. If you want to eat less take-out, schedule certain days of the week when you’ll commit to making dinner so that you can plan ahead and create your grocery list. If it’s in your calendar, you’ll be more likely to stay on track.
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5. Write it down and share it
Interestingly, data suggests that when you write down your goals, you are more likely to succeed in achieving them. Similarly, if you share your goals with a friend or your spouse or partner, you’ll generate a support network which will help motivate you to stay on track.
Once you’ve chosen your New Year’s resolutions, revisit your list every 2-3 months to see what else you can add
to the list. Making healthy changes should happen all throughout the year – not just in January! If you’d like help deciding on specific and realistic goals to suit your needs, please contact your local Medisys dietitian.