Goals help you channel your focus and effort by directing your attention to the steps you must take to achieve your desired outcome. Goals can make the process less intimidating by allowing you to break down a seemingly impossible task into several more approachable mileposts. As you meet your mileposts, you’ll gain confidence in your own abilities, giving you satisfaction and empowering you to keep going.
Tips for creating health goals:
- Use SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound).
- Start small then up your game as you go.
Example: Instead of I’m going to start walking more. Try this: I am going to walk 7,000 steps a day for the next week. Once you meet that goal, up your game to I’m going to walk 10,000 steps a day for the next two weeks.
How are you going to achieve your goals? One easy way to start is by identifying small habit changes that you can incorporate into your daily routine and then build on. Example: If your goal is to sleep 8 hours a night for the next two weeks, how can you make that happen?
Break it down to some specific habits:
- I’ll put away my phone/turn off tv at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- I’ll spend 15 minutes meditating, journaling, or stretching before bed each night.
- I’ll be in bed by 10 p.m. each night.
Once you’ve mastered those habits, you can tweak them or add more habits to suit your needs.
For most of us, identifying when and where to incorporate new habits should be part of our plan. Instead of saying I am going to walk 30 minutes a day, say I will walk 30 minutes every day after work at the park by my house.
Life happens. We all have bad days and setbacks. The difference between success and not is how you respond—which usually comes back to how well you planned. What are some challenges you anticipate navigating on your path? What can you do to overcome them?
Example: Your goal is I will not eat unhealthy take-out for lunch this week. But in your rush to get out the door, you left your healthy lunch sitting on the counter. You can probably anticipate that sometimes you’ll forget your lunch, so plan for that possibility and identify with a detour.
- Get a healthy meal at the Thunderbird Café
- Have on hand some healthy take-out menu options
- Keep a healthy frozen meal in the freezer at work
Most importantly, even if you have a bad day, don’t let it knock you off track. Consider it a freebie and keep going.
Tracking your habits and your progress toward your goals can keep you accountable to yourself, help you identify what isn’t working, and keep you motivated. Whether you are keeping track using an app (such as Virgin Pulse) or crossing off each day with good old pen and paper, tracking it helps you see how well you are doing and how far you’ve come.