6 Tips to Sustain Your New Year Health Goals

goals goalsetting healthgoals newyeargoals Jan 14, 2023

We’ve probably all been guilty of it over the years…setting New Year’s resolutions, health goals or even following some fad diet or another, sometimes without even really knowing why. Can you relate?!!

If you can relate, then you’ll also probably be able to relate to finding that by the end of January, those changes are out the window too!

So what can you do to make sure that you do set yourself up for success with New Year health goals or changes?

1. Focus on one change at a time. Don’t try to change too many things all at once – trying to start on an exercise regime, change eating habits, drink more water, get more sleep all at once make it very hard to do and therefore very hard to sustain. Choose one thing and focus on creating some simple habits that are realistic and that you can maintain and when you’ve got those working well, focus on the next thing.

2. Start with small changes. If you haven’t exercised for a while, don’t try to commit to exercising 3-4 times a week for 45 minutes; if you’re not drinking much water, don’t try to start drinking 2L of water a day. Start with small changes and gradually build up. For example, start with 30 squats a day for 14 days or a 10 minute workout 3 times a week; start with 500ml of water and gradually build up. We often aim for big, unrealistic changes (usually because we want big results!), but this is why most people give up…because the changes are too big and unrealistic. Most people underestimate the compounding effect of small changes.

3. Aim for progress not perfection. Sometimes we can put off starting, because we’re waiting until we have everything in place or we wait for the perfect time…”I have this on or that on or it’s crazy at work, so I can’t start until everything is perfect, or overthinking because we’re scared to take that first step. Remember that whatever changes you make, no matter how small, will still be better than what you were doing yesterday. We don’t have to get it right 100% of the time. You don’t need a unanimous decision to win an election; you just need the majority. It doesn’t matter if you cast a few votes for a bad behaviour or an unproductive habit. Your goal is to win the majority of the time.  We need to be able to enjoy life and navigate the birthdays, events, dinners out with friends, holidays…that’s life! If we wait for the perfect time, we will never start! Remember that in any election, no one ever ends up with 100% of the votes. But each time you start a workout, choose a healthier snack, eat a healthy breakfast, drink water, leave work to get to the gym, you are casting a vote for your health.  This is the reason why meaningful change doesn’t require radical change.

4. Celebrate progress. Focus on your wins each day, no matter how small. Maybe you chose a healthier option for lunch, took the time to sit and eat lunch, parked your car in the furthest parking bay so you’d walk a bit more, drank more water than yesterday. So often we focus on what we didn’t do, but by focusing on all the things you did do, no matter how small, you’re reinforcing all the things you want to create more of. Tiny changes make a big positive difference. Small improvements on a daily basis do add up. Success is the product of daily habits, not once in a lifetime transactions. 

5. Schedule it in! What gets scheduled gets done, otherwise our goals simply remain good intentions. Whether it’s scheduling in your exercise, time to plan out your meals for the week and organise your groceries, time out for you, packing some healthy snacks for the week. Pop some time in your calendar or link it to a habit you already do e.g. after my morning coffee on the weekend, I’ll plan out my meals for the week and do my online grocery order (or go to the supermarket). After Pilates on Sunday morning, I’ll pack/organise/make some healthy snacks for the week.

6. Focus on finding what works for you! It can be tempting to watch what other people are doing, hear a new idea and want to try it but it’s important to remember that we all have different lifestyles, schedules, family situations, preferences, age, body types etc. “Comparison is the thief of joy”. What works for one person may not work for you for lots of different reasons. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others and focus on finding what works for you and your unique lifestyle, because the changes you make need to be sustainable. They need to accommodate what is happening in your life and how you like to live your life.

The bottom line? As James Clear says, “Small changes don’t add up, they compound. That’s the power of habits. Tiny changes. Remarkable results”

So keep it simple…focus on just doing something better today than you did yesterday, so that you can enjoy the journey to achieving the changes you’d like to make this year. 

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