Don’t wait until the New Year: Why you should Set Goals Now!
When it comes to setting goals, the new year always feels like the perfect time to set a resolution because it implies starting over with a clean slate. But who’s to say you can’t start right now? Every day you wake up is a chance to start over.
An important first step to setting a goal is to choose ONE goal that is important to YOU. As some of you may know from experience, trying to achieve new goals can often feel overwhelming and discouraging, which often leads to giving up. That’s why focusing on one small goal at a time – instead of one big and overwhelming goal – is a great way to get started and to stay motivated along the way!
Next, you want to ensure that you are ready to make this change by asking yourself: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how ready am I to make this change”? If the answer is 7 or more, that means you are ready!
Thinking about making a change and assessing your readiness to change are great first steps; however, to increase the odds of following through with your new goal, making a plan and writing it down is crucial.
As you make your detailed plan, consider setting yourself up for success my making your goal a SMART one. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Follow the steps below as you write down your new goal!
A goal needs to be as specific as possible (the more detailed the better!) so you can work towards it and achieve it. For example, “exercise more” as a goal is too vague. Ask yourself the following questions as you are setting your goal: What exactly do I want to achieve? When will I do it? Why do I want to do it? And before you know it, your goal will go from “I will exercise more often” to “I will exercise more by walking around my neighborhood after dinner, three times a week. I will do this because I want to better my health”.
Make your goal measurable – breaking down your goal into measurable elements will help you know when you’ve reached it! You can measure your progress by using different units of measurement. If your goal is to walk three times a week, you can measure your progress using time (i.e. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.) or distance (i.e. 2km, 5km, etc.). So when you have walked three times for 30 minutes in one week, for example, you will know that you’ve reached your goal.
Is your goal attainable? Reflect on how you plan to achieve your goal and on the logical steps you should take in order to reach your goal. You may need to use special equipment, change your schedule or take advantage of resources in your community for support. As mentioned, it is important to set a goal that is not too difficult in order to avoid getting discouraged. Instead, you want to set a goal that is challenging, but that is also achievable. Take the necessary steps in order to give yourself the best chance to succeed!
Is reaching your goal relevant to you? Setting a goal that is important to you will give you motivation and desire to achieve it. It’s important that you don’t set a goal just because it sounds good or because someone else thinks you should. Instead, you want to make sure that it’s something that aligns with who you are and what your values are. To help keep you motivated, you can also think of the rewards or the benefits of accomplishing your goal.
Lastly, give yourself a time limit to help keep you motivated and to give you a target to work towards. For example, you can start by trying out your new goal for 4 weeks, 6 weeks or even a few months. After your chosen time period, you can reassess your goal and modify it if necessary. Once you have reached your goal, you can decide to move on and set a new goal.
Now that you are familiar with the steps to set a SMART goal, you can likely recognize the benefits of beginning to set your new goal now (instead of waiting until January 1). It can take a lot of reflection and preparation when it comes to setting new goals. So start the New Year one step ahead! Set your goal now and take small steps towards achieving that goal over the holidays.
Consider using the following tips to help keep you motivated:
- Write down your new goal in your calendar or on pieces of paper that you can post on your fridge, by your door, or somewhere you will see it often. These will serve as great daily reminders to stay on track.
- Use technology to your advantage by using your phone, your computer or your watch to set alarms that remind you to work towards your goal.
- Tell your friends and family about your goal. Your social circle can be a great source of motivation and support.
- Take advantage of the resources that are available in your community for additional support.
Marathon Family Health Team is encouraging you to set a goal that aims to improve your health and wellbeing. Supports are available if your new health goal includes increasing your level of physical activity, changing your eating habits or quitting smoking:
Exercise coaching: Many of you might be new to exercise, might lack motivation or simply not know which type of exercise is best for you. If that’s the case, you can make an appointment at MFHT for exercise coaching.
Healthy eating: Consider booking an appointment with MFHT’s Registered Dietician to receive individualized information on how you can make healthier eating choices.
Smoking cessation: The STOP program provides nicotine replacement therapy (i.e. patch, gum, inhaler, lozenges) at no cost to patients who want to stop smoking.
If you would like more information about these programs, call the Marathon Family Health Team today at 807-229-3243.