Realistic Resolutions: How to Set Realistic Health Goals for the New Year
Hundreds of millions of Americans make resolutions each year, with health and wellness improvements being top goals on the list. From running a 5K to practicing meditation, prioritizing mental and physical well-being is more popular than ever—but just 10% of people actually follow through on their promises.
Luckily, there’s a way to beat this statistic, and it only takes a few simple steps. Here’s how you can set yourself up for success and make realistic resolutions you’re sure to stick to.
1. DON’T OVERLOAD.
It isn’t unusual to stack up on the changes you want to make in the coming year. But if you aren’t careful, your list could become a daunting pile of chores. Instead of choosing a bunch of small goals, pick three or four bigger ones and break them down into attainable steps. By taking baby steps, you’re more likely to achieve larger goals, and it’s easier to get back on track if you fall behind.
2. WRITE YOUR RESOLUTIONS DOWN.
Writing something down and posting it in a place you often see (your fridge, your desk at work, or even your mirror) will give you a greater sense of accountability. Every time you see your list of resolutions, you’ll be reminded of the changes you’re trying to make. It’s also a good idea to start a resolutions journal or notebook to record progress and struggles.
3. TREAT YOURSELF.
When you reach a goal—no matter how big or small—and treat yourself, your brain releases dopamine. This encourages your brain to seek validation, which drives you to work toward your next goal.
Your rewards could be small, like buying a new, trendy novel after you’ve finished a book that’s been on your nightstand for months. But you can also include bigger rewards for more impressive milestones, like buying a nice pair of running shoes after you complete your first 5K.
4. SEEK ACCOUNTABILITY.
Tell your family or your group chat about your goals and invite them to do the same. Check in with each other and offer support when you’re having trouble sticking to resolutions. Asking someone to hold you accountable makes it harder to back out of a goal and keeps you motivated.
5. UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY.
There really is an app for everything. If you’re concentrating on your mental health, download an app to track your moods, help with meditation, and form new habits. If fitness is on your list, use a running tracker to chart your progress and pair it with a playlist at the same tempo as your speed.
There are plenty of social media groups for accountability, advice, or humble brags, too. Chatting with people whose goals align with yours gives you somewhere to go for ideas on staying motivated and avoiding obstacles. Leveraging technology can make goals a little more approachable and a little more fun.
6. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE.
You’re only human, and setbacks are part of the human experience. It’s up to you to decide if you want to feel guilty after slipping or get up and try again.
If you’re afraid setbacks will discourage you from trying, write a plan with steps to stay on course. Do this for each goal, but try not to punish yourself for making a mistake. Never let errors derail you—remember why you started and focus on progress, not perfection. You’ve got this!