Setting Healthy Goals
Setting Healthy Goals
Every day we make choices about how to care for ourselves. Because the consequences of healthy choices don’t happen overnight, sometimes it can be difficult to make smart choices. We choose to fulfill our short-term wants, because we’re not quite sure how to plan for long-term goals.
Healthy change takes commitment and time. Setting goals is the most efficient way to accomplish a positive, healthy lifestyle. However, how you frame and specify those goals plays a huge role in the chances of success. Learning how to make specific, measurable, attainable, and forgiving goals sets you up for the life you desire.
Specific- Goals should clearly describe what you would like to change and how you’re going to do it. Often times, our goals are vague and too broad.
General versus specific- A vague goal won’t supply you with the motivation you need for genuine change. For example, you might say, “I want to get fit.” What does “fit” look like? How will you achieve that? A better way to succeed is to be very specific. How often are you going to exercise and for how long? If you need more energy for your fitness goals, how much sleep would you like? What steps will you take to get to bed earlier? There’s a big difference between, “I want to be healthier,” and “I want to go for a 60 minute run, three times this week, so I will have the energy to play with my kids on the baseball field.”
Write down your “why”- Why do you want to achieve this goal? What is motivating you? Write down what your life will look like when you achieve this goal. This vision is more powerful than a general, vague statement. This reason, the “why,” will be the motivation to keep running, stop smoking, continue saving toward retirement, or whatever your goal entails.
Measurable- How will you know you’re making progress if you don’t track it? The more you measure, the more you’ll encourage yourself to keep going and celebrate when you meet your goal.
Keep a record- Write down your behavior or track it with an app. These clues will tell you how and when you’re moving toward or away from your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds, you might count your calories or track your daily percentages of vitamins and minerals. Records can also help physicians give you helpful advice. Be mindful though; your current health, weight, etc. do not necessarily reflect what you did yesterday. Change will take time.
Maintenance- You might feel overwhelmed if you have many different goals in your life. Instead, think about the changes you’ve made in the past and the healthy habits you’re already maintaining. Goals seem more within your grasp when you look at what you’ve already achieved.
Rewards- When you set measurable goals and track progress, you will know when to reward yourself. People are more likely to succeed when they have small, frequent rewards instead of holding out for one, large prize.
Attainable- Goals should be realistic. Think about your time, finances, and abilities, and set small, attainable steps toward the larger goal. These might be daily, weekly, or monthly goals, so you don’t lose motivation quickly. Too large a goal will seem overwhelming.
Short-term- Move in small, consecutive steps. Setting short-term goals as steps toward long-term goals allows for encouragement and rewards along the way. For example, if you choose to pay off all your debt, start with one bill. Concentrate on paying extra on that bill for three months by minimizing eating out or entertaining.
Connect motivations- Sometimes a larger goal will seem too large and stressful. Consider connecting two smaller motivations to achieve your larger goals. For example, wanting to be healthy might not be enough motivation. Maybe taking a vacation where you can hike mountain trails will connect two interests and help you get in shape.
Forgiving- Progress does not equal perfection. There will be days when emergencies or distractions occur, and you have to spend your time doing other tasks. Make allowances and practice self-compassion.
Avoid self-comparison- Everyone is unique and accomplishes change on his or her own timetable. Working with others can be encouraging and beneficial, but it’s wise to steer clear of comparing yourself to a friend or colleague. Others may have faster and better results with the same strategies and possibly less effort. Remember, meeting your goals is about creating the life you want to have and not about competing against others.
Seek help- If you do feel stuck on your goals or discouraged, ask for help. You can avoid mistakes along the way by checking out resources and people who are experienced and have met similar goals.
If you’re ready to get started, the best way to begin is to start saying your goals out loud. Tell people what you’re working toward and how you’ll get there. The more you share your goals and your motivation for a better, healthier life, the more you will believe you can achieve them.
Want to talk to a counselor today about this?
Call Amplified Life at 800-453-7733 and ask for your “Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation" with one of our licensed counselors. We’ll listen, answer questions you may have, and help you plan next steps.