Be Ambitious in the New Year with Proper Goal Setting
January 7, 2016
Here’s your chance! 2016 is a fresh start to a healthy new year full of choices that can positively impact your health. After all, a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to protect yourself against disease and illness. Most experts agree that it takes an average of 21 days to create a habit and six months for it to actually become part of your everyday life. So make sure you are mentally prepared and know that anything you change in your daily routine won’t become a habit overnight.
Have you ever heard of the goal setting acronym, SMART? It stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. When it comes down to it, living healthy is easier if you set goals. Here’s the breakdown of the SMART acronym to help you achieve your goals for 2016:
Specific – Know what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there. For example, don’t just say you want to exercise in the new year, be specific and say, “I’ll work on getting in shape by jogging 2 miles everyday.” When that’s a routine, you can increase your efforts.
Measurable – By measuring your goals, you’ll be able to see progress and know when you’ve reached your short-term goals. For example, don’t just say you want to jog often, set a measurable goal such as, “I’ll jog 2 miles 5 times a week,” so that when you actually complete ten miles in a week you’ll know you’ve hit your goal.
Attainable – Make sure the goal you’re setting is possible. You may not be able to hit your long-term goals right now and that’s ok. Start by making attainable goals that are specific and measurable. For example, if you can’t run 2 miles right now, start with 1. Make sure the goal you set is attainable each day and then you can add to it when it’s a part of your routine. Maybe right now you can only run a half of a mile over the course of a 2 mile walk. That’s ok, just make sure whatever goal you set out to accomplish is attainable.
Realistic – Make sure your goal is appropriate for you and something you’re willing to work towards. Don’t set a goal to run 2 miles 5 days a week if you can’t even walk two miles right now. And, make sure you have the resources to achieve your goal. Is there a nearby place to run two miles so you can run first thing in the morning? Or, would it make more sense with your schedule to fit this in at the end of your day? If you have small kids at home, it may even be something you need to incorporate in your day. And, another important question you need to ask yourself is, “am I willing to work towards this goal?” If the answer is no, then you need to work on setting a different goal.
Time-Based – And, finally, set a time frame. Don’t just say, “I’ll do this until I feel like a confident runner” because if you don’t put an actual time on it, it’s difficult to evaluate. Instead, say this is something you’ll do for one month. Then, you can step back and reassess your goals.
Goals that encourage healthy living don’t have to be fitness related. You can create goals that encourage you to drink more water, add more color to your plate (like adding 7 different colored fruits and vegetables a day to increase variety and nutrition to your diet), sleep more, move more, or even practice mindfulness and meditation daily.
Speaking of water, in case you didn’t know, our water intake impacts everything in our bodies, from the amount of energy we have to the level of hunger we feel throughout the day, it even affects our ability to concentrate, and recover from a workout. Water is the single most concentrated element in the human body. Even small decreases in proper hydration levels can have a significant impact on your overall health. So, to begin with, make sure you’re drinking enough water each.
Increasing or improving your physical fitness may not be your goal for this year, but you can apply this method to just about anything. For example, instead of saying you want to eat healthier, set a SMART goal to “eat at least three servings of vegetables every day for the next month.” Or, instead of saying you want to get more sleep, say “I will go to bed by 10p.m. every night for the next two weeks.”
Whatever they are, we hope your goals for the New Year add value to your life and help you achieve optimal health. Texas MedClinic wants to be a resource for you as you and we’ll be here seven days a week if something unexpected comes up. To find a location near you, go to www.texasmedclinic.com.
Happy New Year!