Setting health-related goals – like drinking more water, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep – is a worthy ambition; but frequently these goals begin and end as ambitions and nothing more. So how do you move from having lots of good intentions to making them a reality and accomplishing your health goals?
It’s easier than you might think.
Identify your motivators
It’s a widely accepted phenomenon that if you desire a change, you’ll take the necessary steps to make it happen. But if the change isn’t truly coming from within, you’re unlikely to do anything to bring the idea into a reality.
This concept aptly applies to healthy living, and it starts with what motivates you. Are you motivated to drink more water as a natural way to flush toxins from your body? Do you want to get into a regular bedtime routine to help reduce depression and stress due to lack of sleep? Do you want to get a handle on your snacking habit as a means of promoting a healthy metabolism?
Whatever it is that you want to achieve, you have to first note why you want to achieve it. Only from there will you find the strength to continue persevering when it becomes difficult.
Make a plan
After you’ve identified why you want to achieve long term health goals, it’s time to determine how you’ll achieve them. If your goal is to exercise more, you need a plan make a plan to make it happen. “Exercising more,” while it’s a fantastic intention, isn’t measurable and therefore is rather difficult to achieve. What is more? What kind of exercise do you want to do more of?
It’s vital to your success to plan out exactly how you’re going to meet your goal. Perhaps it looks something like this:
Mondays and Wednesdays – 30-minute jog/run/bike ride
Tuesday and Thursdays – 60-minute yoga session
Friday and Sunday – 30-60 minute strength training and stretching
Saturday – rest day
Obviously, this whole thing is completely customizable, but even writing out a simple schedule like that will keep you accountable and serve as a useful reminder.
Start small and work your way up
If you want to eat healthily, you’re probably not going to toss everything in your fridge into the trash and completely start afresh. Not only is that a waste of food, it’s a whole lot of extra work. Plus, it can be more difficult to start from scratch rather than starting small.
Eating healthy can be a challenge overall, but switching out unhealthy/sugary/inflammatory foods is an easy way to start. For example, you might want to begin with cutting out added refined sugars. This begins with eliminating desserts, of course, but also items like soda, white bread, granola, low-fat diet foods and ready-made meals.
When you begin eliminating these items (or whichever category of unhealthy foods you choose), you’ll begin to notice a difference in the way your body feels for the better and will be even more motivated to continue working towards accomplishing your health goals.
When identifying and outlining health goals to set, you want to make sure they’re ones that you can actually achieve. If you want to drink more water throughout the day, but don’t have frequent access to a filtered water system, purchase a water bottle large enough to help you reach your quota.
Another example might be wanting to attend the gym for an hour every day, but between commuting and dinner and just everyday life commitments, it’s not possible. Consider, instead, utilizing the great outdoors or investing in an online app or class. That way you can cut down on travel time, but still, achieve your goal of frequent exercise.
Regardless of what you’re hoping to achieve, make sure it remains within the boundaries of what’s possible for your life so you can feel accomplished and avoid discouragement.
Consider SMART goals
The acronym SMART stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. This means they say exactly what they’re going to do – they can be measured, they can be met in the time allowed, they’re realistic and applicable to your situation and the time in which they can be accomplished is reasonable.
An exercise goal that isn’t SMART would sound something like, “I’m going to exercise more.” On the other hand, a SMART goal for exercise would look something like, “I’m going to jog around the local park every day for 30 minutes five days a week.” Not only does it give the measurable time per day, but it identifies where it will be accomplished and how many times a week it will be done. Not only does this tactic make achieving your goals more understandable, but it also makes them more possible.
Improving your life with long term health goals
Maybe you’ve been putting off a healthy lifestyle for a long time, or maybe it’s been something you’ve found an interest in but couldn’t answer the question “What are health goals I want to achieve in my life?” By starting small, being realistic, keeping yourself motivated and making sure you can measure your success, you’ll be on the right path to accomplishing your health goals both for the benefit of your physical and mental health.
For further information on how setting and sticking to health-related goals increases physical and mental health, reach out to Pyramid Online Counseling at 866-203-0262.