Do you make New Year’s resolutions? And how many of those resolutions are centered around wellness? Goals like lose weight, exercise more, or eat more vegetables? They seem like a good idea but as the year goes on, you may feel disappointed in yourself if you don’t accomplish what you set out to do. Oftentimes, your New Year’s resolutions can be too broad and overly optimistic about what can be done in a year. A goal is set without a plan so time passes without any progress. If you’re setting New Year’s resolutions focused on wellness, follow these five tips.
1. Set Big Goals, Then Get Specific
The first step to setting your wellness goals is to write out what you want to accomplish by year’s end. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then you would make that more specific by saying lose 30 pounds by the end of the year. Having a specific number gives you clarity for something specific to work toward. Creating a routine will make your goals more attainable so you are motivated to achieve them.
If you know that in 12 months you want to lose 30 pounds, the next step is to start breaking that number down into how much you’d need to lose each month: 2.5 pounds. When you break it down, the goal doesn’t seem so big. Thinking about losing 30 pounds can feel overwhelming, but losing 2.5 pounds per month is much more attainable. On the other hand, if you set your big goal without getting specific, you may feel overwhelmed and disappointed.
What are your wellness goals? If you need some help getting started, here are some ideas:
- Eat more vegetables: Include one green vegetable in two meals per day and eat one orange vegetable once per day.
- Exercise more: Take a 10–15 minute walk every day after lunch.
- Increase your energy levels: Drink at least 100 ounces of water per day and sweat from exercise at least twice per week.
- Cut out soda: Enjoy a soda on only on Tuesdays and Saturdays for two months, then enjoy a soda only on Saturdays for two more months. After those four months, switch to sparkling water.
- Cook at home more: Pick out two new recipes per week to make at home on Wednesdays and Sundays.
- Read 12 wellness books: Pick one new book to read each month and dedicate 10 minutes per evening to reading.
Now it’s your turn! Start writing out your wellness goals. Remember, be specific with your goal setting.
2. Find Your Why
One of the biggest reasons why people fail to reach their goals is they don’t know why they’re doing something. Going back to the weight loss example: Why do you want to lose weight? If it’s to look good in your clothes, that’s great. If it’s to have more energy to play with your kids, that’s awesome too. It’s important to know why you want something because then when you get discouraged, you can remind yourself why you’re doing it. It gives you something to lose if you give up.
Let’s go back to the weight loss example. Expand upon your goal as follows: Lose 30 pounds by the end of the year by dropping 2.5 pounds per month so I can have more energy to play with my kids and look better in my clothes, which will help me feel more confident.
Do you see how different that goal looks when you get specific and determine your why? Your why is the fuel behind each goal. You wouldn’t go on a road trip without filling up your gas tank first. So remember to bring momentum to your goals by getting clear on your reason behind wanting them in the first place. As you focus on the compelling reasons behind each goal, it will be easier to make them part of your daily lifestyle.
3. Write Out Your Action Plan
You are unlikely to accomplish a long-term goal without putting a plan in place. A goal without an action plan is a daydream. You might make progress toward it, but most of the time you won’t accomplish what you set out to do. Once you set your big goal, get specific, and find your why, it’s then time to write out your action plan. A plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it will give you a routine to follow each day so you know what you need to do to accomplish your long-term goal.
Think about a vacation. Would you say “Let’s go to Australia” and take off without planning anything? Do you magically end up in Australia without an action plan? Nope. You pick what days you’re going, you book flights, you find a hotel, and you pack clothes and toiletries. It takes a plan to accomplish a vacation. Why would you think you can set a goal like losing weight without having a plan?
With the weight-loss goal example, you know losing 2.5 pounds per month is necessary to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year. But how are you going to do it? Weight loss requires daily habits that turn into long-term lifestyle habits. For example, if the goal is weight loss, think of steps like the following.
- Drink lemon water upon waking instead of coffee.
- Drink a green smoothie at breakfast instead of eating a bagel.
- Enjoy a big leafy green salad at lunchtime with chicken or fish.
- Have a handful of nuts or fruit as a snack.
- Make vegetables the main course of dinner and meat or fish the side dish.
- Enjoy dates with almond butter for dessert instead of cookies and ice cream.
- Do daily physical activity by going for a 20-minute walk or taking a Pilates class.
- Get in bed by 10 p.m. each night to ensure you get enough sleep.
Everyone’s personal wellness plan is going to look different, but if you write out your action plan to accomplish your goals, you’re much more likely to succeed. A big goal isn’t accomplished overnight. You have to work at it daily—and with a plan, that daily routine will seem much easier.
4. Keep Yourself Accountable
How often do you start to do something and then stop because you don’t have accountability? Why do you think people addicted to drugs need to spend their detox period in a rehab facility? It isn’t just for medical watch— it’s also so they can be kept accountable to not relapse. Accountability is helpful in everything you do, whether you are an employee with a timecard, a student with homework, a recovering gambling addict attending support meetings, or a parent keeping your children accountable for household chores. When you have someone helping you and encouraging you, you will be more likely to accomplish your goals and dreams
Whatever it is you need to do to keep yourself accountable, do it! It doesn’t have to be connecting with another person, although that is highly recommended. You can do things like putting a dollar in a jar every time you skip out on working toward your goal, with a plan to donate that money to a cause you dislike. You can also write your goals and objectives where you can see them every day—the fridge, the bathroom mirror, or even your car dashboard. The more visible your goals are, the more accountable you will be to them. Or grab a friend to join you on your wellness goal journey. The support of another person is invaluable.
5. Enjoy the Process and Be Kind to Yourself
There is no point in setting wellness goals if they’re going to make you feel bad about yourself. This isn’t about a success-or-fail mentality. Set goals, find your why, write your plan, get accountable, and then enjoy your journey. Remember, your wellness goals are meant to support you in a positive way. If at any point you start to feel negative about yourself or the process, sit down and remember your why—the reason why you want to accomplish your goals in the first place. That will get you back in a positive mindset so you can keep going. Some days you will do great. And other days you might fall short. But be kind and compassionate to yourself every day—and remember that you are stronger than you think and more capable than you believe.
Whatever goals you set out to accomplish, if you focus on these five tips, you will have a much greater likelihood of succeeding and feeling amazing about yourself in the new year. You got this!
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.