It’s half way through January and we all know the familiar drill…‘New Year, New You’. By this time of the month you are already thinking “I don’t know how much longer this can last!” or perhaps even feeling guilty because already you haven’t kept a resolution or two. The majority of people make New Year’s resolutions but also don’t stick to their resolutions. Here are a few tips from our Nutritional Solutions Dietitians on how to set smart goals for your health, all year round, and stick to them!
- Be Specific:
Think about the specifics of your goal, the more specific you are, the more likely it is that you will reach your goal.
- What will you do?
- When will you start?
- How will you do it?
- Make your goal Measurable:
As the saying goes, you cannot manage what you don’t measure – ideally goals should be measureable as this will help you track your progress.
- Set small, achievable Action-oriented goals:
We encourage all of our patients to set goals that they are able to implement immediately. Try to set goals that you have control over and can change. Try to focus on behaviour change rather than on thoughts and feelings. A consistent change in behaviour can influence thoughts and feelings in the long run.
- Be Realistic:
This is an important one – be realistic about the goals you set for yourself. If you choose a goal that you know you can achieve this will increase your self-confidence to achieve bigger and more difficult goals and ensure long term success!
- Give yourself a Time Frame:
Working with a target date gives a sense of urgency to your goals – a deadline will help keep you motivated and focused. One week to one month is usually a good time frame to start with.
Here is an example of a SMART goal:
Goal: Eat more fruits and vegetables.
What will you do? I would like to eat the recommended amount of seasonal fruits and vegetables – 5-a-day.
When will you do it? I would like to start immediately.
How will you do it? I have time today to go to my local green grocer to buy some fresh produce. I would like my trolley to be a rainbow of colours to ensure I am getting a variety of nutrients.
Measureable: I would like to eat 400g (5-a-day) of fresh fruits and vegetables/ day. I can track my intake on a record in my daily diary or keep track on my phone.
Action orientated: To help control my cravings after dinner, I will replace my chocolate with a fresh fruit portion. This will help me meet my fruit and vegetable goals for the day but also reduce my chocolate intake.
Realistic: At the moment I eat enough fruits and vegetables 3 times a week, from today I would like to aim for 5 times a week.
Timely: For this week I would like to eat the recommended amount on 3 out of 7 days and gradually increase my intake and variety over the next 3 weeks. In 1 month I would like to be eating 5 fruit and veg daily, 7 days a week!
Tips to help you reach your goal:
- Don‘t set too many goals at a time. Usually 1-3 goals are sufficient. If you set too many goals, you may feel overwhelmed.
- Record and track your progress. It often helps to have someone who you can be accountable to (like a dietitian) who is objective about your goals. A dietitian is able to motivate you and help you plan for and overcome obstacles that you may face along the way.
- Fail to plan, plan to fail – panning is crucial for success. Think about what type of obstacles might prevent you from reaching your goals and think about how you would deal with these.
- Make a list of reasons why achieving your goal is important to you. After the initial excitement of making your goals fades and your motivation dwindles, relook these reason’s to help get you back on track.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff and celebrate all your successes (no matter how small).
- Find non-food related ways to reward yourself:
- Buy yourself a bunch of flowers/massage/item of clothing
- Go on a special outing.
- Sign up to learn a new activity
What should I do if I don’t reach my goal?
Don’t beat yourself up! At some point or another everyone will experience a relapse, but it is not important that you had a setback but rather what you decide to do about it! There will be good days and there will be days when nothing goes right. Use those days to help you plan for obstacles so that you are never caught unprepared!