We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce
I find it hard to believe it’s the end of another year. 2010 seemed to go past in a flash for me. And so, it’s that time of year again when many of us dream about being a better version of ourselves.
But, if you’ve set New Years Resolutions in the past, you’ll be familiar with how those good intentions can begin to flag by the time you get to February, or maybe even sooner.
One of the main problems with setting goals at New Year is, they have a tendency to be more unrealistic than normal — perhaps given the gluttony in the month that has just passed.
You know how it goes, you launch into a strict and inflexible diet, and an intensive exercise plan, all at the same time, and it’s almost impossible to maintain.
These are easy traps to fall into. But, how can you avoid history repeating itself in 2011?
Here are 5 tips to help you achieve your health goals this New Year
1. Review, Review, Review
Go back to the goals you set yourself last New Year — have you achieved them? Do some need revisiting and refining?
You may find that in the past you had set goals that were not easy to maintain or achieve. So, take an honest and objective look at your lifestyle: work commitments, family, energy levels, etc., and plan this years goals around something that is workable for you, and the people in your life.
2. Be Realistic
I think that here in the Northern Hemisphere it’s one of the worst times of year to impose strict rules and regimens on our lives.
The weather is cold, it’s dark, and after Christmas many people are left feeling deflated. So, starting a punishing diet and exercise program isn’t a good idea.
But, I’m not saying forget about getting healthy for a few months… no way! The sooner you start, the better.
Instead, try setting yourself some doable goals, which you can achieve within the first 3 months of the year. After you see how that goes, you can always up your game to make sure you are challenging yourself as the months progress.
If you don’t exercise right now, perhaps you could begin by setting a goal to workout out 3 times per week, for 20 minutes, as opposed to jumping right into it, and trying to punch out one hour workouts, 7 days per week.
3. Be Specific
Make sure your goals are clear and also measurable.
Do you want to be a certain weight, dress size, or maybe you have specific measurements you wish to achieve (weight isn’t the best indicator of a healthy body size)? Perhaps you want to be able to run a certain distance, or you want to train for a fun run, mini marathon, or even a full marathon. Your health goals may be to improve your blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
Whatever your goals are, it’s important to have a specific number/figure in mind, as this gives you a way to keep track of your progress.
Specific goals will help you to feel more motivated, as you will be constantly working towards that specific goal. This give clarity and focus, and is a hugely important factor in successful goal setting.
Also, don’t forget to plan for what you will do once you achieve a specific goal. Stopping your regimen too suddenly can lead to weight gain, or a drop in your level of fitness, and it’s difficult to get back on track again.
So, make sure you have a maintenance plan in place for when you get to that stage.
4. Make a Record
When you write make a record of your goals you are much more likely to stick to them — research proves this. There’s something about having that visual reminder of what you want to achieve. It really is a powerful motivator.
Try writing down a few words about why you want to achieve your goals. Remind yourself frequently of all the ways you will feel better when you are successful.
Also, track your progress by recording your weight or inches lost, or distance you have run, depending on your what your goal is.
5. Have FUN
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you must remember to enjoy yourself.
Exercise and diet should not be a form of punishment. Remember, if you dislike something, you are unlikely to stay motivated, and giving up is only a matter of time.
Make your focus all about enjoying the process, as well as the final result. This way, your new regimen can become a way of life, rather than a temporary measure that you feel you have to endure.
To read more goal setting tips, check out 8 Steps to Making Successful New Year’s Resolutions.
I wish you a happy, healthy and energetic New Year. Best wishes.