Author Nina Evans, Researcher & Trainer in Public Health/03 January 2019
Hope everyone enjoyed their festive period and welcoming in the New Year!
Now 2019 is well and truly here, many of us will have made some sort of New Year’s resolution. Rather than setting generalised resolutions or following a fad diet (which eventually lead you back to square one), here are some tips on how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions or rather, how to set long-term, sustainable and successful goals!
When striving for self-improvement, the beginning of a New Year certainly is a great place to start. However, resolutions made are often generic and too broad and don’t make it past January. A reason for this is that setting a resolution and achieving a resolution are two very different things.
Half of those setting a New Year’s resolution are not confident of sticking to it. This is immediately set up for failure, as not believing that will you succeed in something, most likely means that you will not. Instead of setting resolutions (the firm decision to do or not to do something), we are more likely to be successful if we set January goals. New Year’s resolutions can be overly general, so our advice instead is to set goals which have direction and a strategic plan to achieve your desired outcome. Research shows that goals with smaller steps are more likely to succeed as they seem more manageable in comparison to those that are overly general. Setting realistic and attainable goals will be one of the most important aspects of your success, here at X-PERT Health we recommend setting S.M.A.R.T goals.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T has several slightly different variations, however, a general definition is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. These words together are seen as general guidance to help set yourself up for success in your goals and objectives whether it be for personal, business or educational purposes;
Specific: a clear and well-defined goal, objective or pursued area
Measurable: able to monitor progress and completion (key to keeping motivation)
Achievable: making sure it remains possible in order to be successful
Realistic: knowing your current circumstances to make sure it is relevant
Time-bound: setting a time frame will give specific direction
Rather than setting a typical New Year’s resolution such as to ‘lose weight’, which can be overwhelming and is too general, think about how this can actually be achieved by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. This will make it more realistic and more likely to lead to success. Here’s how we can use the S.M.A.R.T acronym to achieve our weight loss goal;
“I want to lose 5% body weight in 3 months by stopping snacking and cutting out processed food.”
Rather than simply saying ‘lose weight’, the amount and time have been specified. This makes the goal both clearly defined and within a time frame. Having a measurable goal such as weight allows you to track your progress weekly and allows you to reassess and re-evaluate when your initial weight loss goal has been achieved. Five percent body weight is an example of choosing an amount neither too difficult to achieve or beyond capability and is, therefore, an attainable and realistic goal.
Knowing how to set successful goals is just one step, another is figuring out which goal to set first. A new year is a time when we set resolutions for everything; weight loss, reduced alcohol consumption, increased physical activity and smoking cessation. However, figuring out what is our top priority and what to tackle first will make our goals seem within reach and therefore not too difficult to achieve. Throughout our X-PERT programmes, at the end of each week, there is a goal setting activity to help achieve overall health objectives. Here are our 5 essentials to health goal setting;
1. What is my biggest concern about my health?
2. How do I feel about the concern?
3. What steps should I take to tackle the concern?
4. What is the first step I’m going to take?
5. What happened? Did it work?
Whatever goal you may set to start off this New Year, remember to make it S.M.A.R.T. Here’s to a happy and healthier 2019!
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