How to Create Health Goals for the New Year

It’s almost 2020! That’s not just a new year, but a new DECADE! With the dawn of a decade approaching, new year’s resolutions seem to have some extra pressure this year. Whether it’s about to be a monumental midnight or just another new year, there is always talk of health goals come late December, and there are often unfulfilled health goals from the year that is coming to a close. For many health professionals, it’s no surprise that goals go unfulfilled given the vast difference between media worthy lifestyle overhauls and achievable goals. I want to talk about what those differences are and how you can avoid the trap of dreaming big only to fall short.

First, I want to address the idea of creating resolutions at all. I generally see two camps of people as January approaches: the #newyearnewme group that is ready for a brand new lifestyle, and those who want to forget that nonsense and never change. I tend to fall squarely in the middle. If you feel great about your life and don’t want to change anything, great! If you do have some goals that you still want to work on, you absolutely can work on yourself and achieve better health without a crazy overhaul of your entire life that will feel like a job in itself. There should be no guilt in wanting to change and improve your health. It doesn’t always mean a diet! If you want a helpful way to prioritize your health, we are going to talk about how you can do that.

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I want to make this as simple as possible since our brains are moving a bit slower post holiday festivities. All you need to remember are two little words: attainable and sustainable. So many people set themselves up for disappointment by setting unattainable goals. If your goal is to go to the gym every day of 2020, I am sorry to say that you likely won’t achieve that. There will be days you are busy, traveling, sick, etc. and it won’t get done (not to mention, your body needs rest!). Other unattainable goals might include going zero sugar or 100% homemade with your meals. Yes, these things can be done by few people I’m sure, but they just don’t make sense for most of us. Why not have sugary cake on birthdays? Why not eat out for pizza Friday just because it’s fun?

An attainable goal is a goal that is realistically feasible in your everyday life. Instead of daily gym visits, maybe your goal is to increase your weekly yoga class from once to twice. Maybe your fitness goal is to try a new sport by joining a rec team or your company’s kickball league. These goals do not take up a ton of time, yet they still have a positive return because you are increasing your movement based on where you are currently and what is reasonable for you. If you want to focus on more nutritious eating, maybe you decide to add one new snack option per week so that you aren’t always snacking on cookies, but rather you have the option of cookies and milk OR pretzels and hummus…plus the new snacks that you will shop for and try weekly or monthly! By keeping things realistic and flexible you can improve your wellness with these baby steps that take into account what you are capable of doing at the moment.

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Sustainable is the other metric of success for a new goal. I don’t necessarily mean environmentally friendly when I talk about sustainable (although that is a great thing to think about!). What I mean is – will you be able to maintain this goal long term? This requires thinking about your day to day, week to week, and month to month life. Motivation and novelty runs high in January, but what will you want to be doing and prioritizing come summertime (or sooner)? Sustainable goals allow for flexibility and inclusion of the fun and spontaneous parts of life. Your 7 day per week gym routine might not work when your best friend invites you on her bachelorette in Mexico, or your zero sugar plan will feel tough if you have the chance to travel abroad and visit Paris – the land of good pastries! Sustainability, similar to attainability, requires abandoning a black and white mindset. Rather than making your resolutions all or nothing, think about how a balanced week will look for you a few months into the year. When holidays are over, newness of the year is gone, and you’re back in the swing of work, what will fit into your normal routine? Think back to those baby steps and incremental changes. Maybe one extra veggie serving per day at least 4 days a week will work. Maybe you can drink a full glass of water before coffee at least 6 days per week (allowing for #mondays amirite?). Whatever your goal is, let yourself be human and have some wiggle room so you can get that high and continued motivation from achieving the goal without running yourself ragged by following super strict rules.

If you take anything into the new year and your new intentions let it be this: attainable and sustainable goals will be the ones that last!

Let me know your 2020 intentions below and share this post with a friend who is planning for a happy and healthy 2020. Happy New Year!

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