It’s that time of year again. Time to reevaluate your present and make a plan to improve your future. I invite you to attempt a different approach this year.
Instead of creating sweeping changes or massive lifestyle overhauls at the start of the new year, why not think small? Small changes made to improve our lifestyle are beneficial for many reasons: they are more realistic, easier to implement and they create more confidence that you can succeed.
We all know what happens every year come February or March. The goals created at the start of the new year are already forgotten or failed, only to try again next year. Don’t wait for a certain day on the calendar to decide to make changes. Start and restart when you are ready because you are worth it.
Let’s take a look at how to make SMART goals from the American Council On Exercise SMART Goal Setting Guide:
• Specific – What specific action will you take?
• Measureable – How will you measure that action taken? Yes, write it down.
• Achievable – Is the goal realistic? Do you have all the tools you need to complete the goal?
• Relevant – Does this goal relate to a broader goal?
• Time – What is the timeframe for accomplishing the goal?
Identify a specific action that you would like to improve.
For example, to drink more water. This should be something you want to do for yourself, not something someone else wants you to do.
How will you measure this action? Using the example above, drink an extra two glasses of water throughout the day. Is this goal achievable? I believe drinking more water is achievable, but decide ahead of time how this will look in a typical day.
Will drinking more water every day help you achieve a larger goal to improve your health? Decide what the timeframe will be for the measurement of the goal. Use a calendar and place a mark each time you drink a glass of water per day.
I encourage you to give any goal a timeframe of at least three months as this is the amount of time it takes for a new routine to became a part of your everyday lifestyle.
Some things to keep in mind while you are goal-setting. It is really difficult to set a goal if you do not understand where you currently are. Again using the example above, it would be helpful to know how much water you drink now on a typical day. If your goal is to increase your steps per day, how many steps are you currently logging on a typical day, then set your goal from there.
Remember, no one is perfect. If you don’t reach your goal on a specific day, don’t beat yourself up for it. Try again the next day. Success in reaching a health goal will be your reward!
Laura Rodi is the health and wellness manager at the Department on Aging Senior Center.