It is human nature to pick a day that we view as more significant than the rest to make a change. People often think of the beginning of a new week, month, or – the big one – a new year as the perfect opportunity to start fresh. The tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions only makes sense with the way our brains work, so I’m willing to bet you entered 2023 with some goals in mind.
Recent U.S. polls consistently report that nearly half of those surveyed are likely to make a resolution every year. One of the largest and most comprehensive studies on New Year’s resolutions conducted thus far found that most participants had one or more resolutions regarding physical health. The top three most popular resolution categories among their participants were as follows:
- Physical health – 33%
- Weight loss – 20%
- Eating habits – 13%
The thing is, making a health goal is easy, but sticking with it is another story. How many times have you gotten to December and felt disappointed in yourself for how quickly you let that year’s resolution fade away? This year doesn’t have to end that way. If you’ve already felt your goals slipping away from you, check out the tips below and make a plan to recommit to your health.
When you made your goals at the end of last year, did you phrase them in a way that signifies you’re avoiding something negative or approaching something positive? For example, maybe you said to yourself, “I want to stop eating fast food for dinner multiple times a week.” If so, you might want to consider rephrasing that to something more approach-oriented, like this: “I will replace most of my fast food dinners with balanced, home-cooked meals.” You might be surprised how much the injection of a little positive energy can impact your ability to achieve your goals. The results of the previously mentioned study on New Year’s resolutions revealed that participants with approach-oriented goals were significantly more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals.
Another key takeaway from the New Year’s resolution study is that people who have support while striving toward their goals are more successful. Is there a person in your life (like a partner, friend, or family member) who may also be interested in improving their health? If so, ask them if they’d like to work together. This can be simple and fun, like scheduling group gym sessions. You could also agree to become each other’s accountability partners, which would entail checking in about overall progress more seriously and regularly. Conversations with loved ones can be reassuring, and frequent reminders from them will keep your goal top of mind.
Use the SMART Goal Formula
Having a vague goal like, “I want to be healthier,” can easily lead to failure. For starters, that’s so subjective. How would you even be able to measure success? It’s also so large that it could be quite overwhelming. These types of goals can lead to excuses and procrastination. If some of your goals read like that, try reformulating them using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) criteria. So, instead of that broad, abstract goal we started with, try something like the following. “To create healthier habits, I will add more movement into my daily routine by going for a 15-minute walk at least three times per week starting next Sunday.”
Now that you can actually measure your goals, it’s important to assess your progress over time. Of course, you can do this yourself, but we’ve already discussed how much having support can help you be successful in the end. Along with an accountability partner, you might benefit from involving medical professionals in your health journey. They are the most qualified people to report back on the numbers associated with your goals and what they mean.
Set Interim Goals
Another way to avoid getting overwhelmed is to set smaller goals that you can achieve on your way to crushing the big one. This allows you to focus more on your daily efforts in the present. For example, you’re probably not going to hit a 50-pound weight loss goal in the next couple of weeks. However, if you set five-, 10-, and 25-pound interim goals, you’ll be able to celebrate the many wins you’ll experience throughout the process. Value has even been found in rewarding yourself each time you hit one of these interim goals. Every step you take toward bettering your health is a positive one that deserves to be recognized!
Give Yourself Grace
Making your goals more specific and time-bound is beneficial because it can clarify what you must do to cross the finish line. However, the more deadlines there are to miss, the easier it is to feel like a failure simply because you were late on an interim goal or two. Beating yourself up about it is the opposite of helpful. Don’t adopt an “all or nothing” attitude. Instead, give yourself credit for heading in the right direction at your own pace. Then, keep going!
Do It for You
Ask yourself if the resolutions you set at the beginning of the year are what you really want. Although getting fit so you can keep up with your children or losing weight so you can look good for a partner can be motivating in the short term, your health should matter most to yourself. If you don’t have that personal drive, it will be harder to commit to changing your lifestyle. Recognize that you deserve the life you want!
So, don’t let the road bumps you may be hitting along the way to achieving your 2023 health goals slow you down too much. Jump over those hurdles like the champion you are! Try your best not to think negatively and spiral away from the big picture. If working toward your goals isn’t fitting into your life the way you thought it would, it’s ok to reframe your resolutions so that they reflect what you really want and what is realistic for you.
If you find that you’re lacking the support you need on this health journey, I encourage you to reach out to my team here at GrassRoots Functional Medicine. Schedule a no-cost, no-obligation Discovery Call so we can review your goals, listen to your story, and determine whether or not it makes sense to partner with our team. We have designed comprehensive Adaptation Programs that are customized to your personal needs. We will work to uncover the root causes of the disease and dysfunction that prevents you from being the healthiest version of yourself. Our team of professionals will listen to your story, provide comprehensive testing to eliminate guesswork, and create a customized plan with resources and accountability to keep you on track.
The research is clear. It is possible to get long-term results from resolutions; you just need the proper plan, support, and accountability. We see these outcomes every week with our patients at GrassRoots Functional Medicine. If you’re ready to make your health resolutions a reality, stop procrastinating and take action. Schedule a free Discovery Call to make 2023 the year of transformation!