Happy New Year! We’re almost one week into the New Year, which means that you’ve likely already set some New Year’s Resolutions. New Year’s Resolutions don’t work because they usually don’t contain a specific goal with an action plan to achieve it. Don’t let that happen to you! Here are some simple steps to help you goal set for the new year.
1. Figure out where you want to go. This is where an Outcome Goal can come in useful. An outcome goal states the specific end goal you wish to accomplish in a specified amount of time. Example: I want to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year.
2. Decide what actions you will need to take to reach this goal. These goals are known as process goals. Think of them as listing out the process that will help you get from point A to point B. Using the example Outcome Goal above, some actions that will help someone lose 25 pounds might include:
- Nutrition: eating healthy meals at home (for example, half a plate of non-starchy veggies, ¼ plate whole grain, ¼ plate lean protein, plus one tip of the thumb size serving of healthy fat)
- Physical Activity: Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day 5-6 days a week
- Sleeping 7-8 hours a night
- Drinking at least 64 ounces of water/day
3. Determine your starting points with the actions listed in the previous step. This step is important because it will give you the information that you need to figure out where you’re starting in your journey. For the nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and water goals, what are you current behaviors today? How far are you from achieving your goal behaviors? Example listing of current behaviors:
- Nutrition: currently eating out 5 meals a week and skipping breakfast during the week
- Physical Activity: currently exercising 30 minutes a day 1-2 days/week
- Sleep: currently 6 hours each night
- Water: currently drinking 40 ounces/day
4. Map out a plan to get from where you are to where you want to go. This is where you tie it all together. Let’s use the nutrition example above to map out a sample plan.
- January: By the end of January, regularly eat a balanced breakfast at home (It may be helpful to find options that are “grab and go” to make it easier to stick to initially)
- February: By the end of February, eat out only 2-3 times a week by prepping lunches at home
- March: By the end of March, eat out only once per week by prepping lunches at home
- April: By the end of April, prepare all meals at home with half the plate filled with non-starchy veggies
- May: By the end of May, prepare all meals at home with half the plate filled with non-starchy veggies, and ¼ of the plate with lean protein
- June: By the end of June, prepare all meals at home with half a plate of non-starchy veggies, ¼ plate whole grain, ¼ plate lean protein, plus one tip of the thumb size serving of healthy fat
- July-December: Reaffirm to maintain this goal
There are a million routes that could get you from point A to point B. The key is to take small, reasonable steps along the way. Start with the easy wins (maybe focusing on adding water or getting more sleep first would be the easiest for you) and progress to the more challenging goals last.
5. Follow this same process to map out your plan for all of the behaviors that you want to change and check in with yourself weekly or monthly to gauge your progress.
Life isn’t perfect, so don’t be afraid to adjust your goals as you go through the year. Maybe you’ll discover that eating out once a week and preparing other meals at home is comfortable to you and still allows you to reach your goals. That’s great! Nothing feels better than finding your groove and feeling like it’s effortless to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Now that you know how to craft your plan, all you have to do is set up a system to keep yourself accountable. Keep your goals visible (post-its on your bathroom mirror, written in your calendar, setting alerts on your phone, etc.) and tell a friend or family member what you’re up to so that they can ask you about it. Chances are, they have something they’re working on and could use some accountability for, too!
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