We all enter the new year with the best intentions. “This year, I’m going to… (exercise more, not stress as much, eat more vegetables, make more meals at home, fit into my skinny jeans, schedule more me-time, be active with my kids).” Regardless of what health goals have been or are currently on your resolution list, it’s guaranteed to be a great, ambitious list that fills you with hope, motivation, and inspiration-filled Pinterest boards.
Here’s a shocking yet not entirely surprising fact about resolutions, though. According to U.S.News, more than 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February! Some start out great only to have life and bad habits get in the way. Some enter a stop-and-go pattern that is filled with strict restrictions and unavoidable disappointments. And some never even get beyond making the resolution!
The good news is you are in control of your success, and these five life hacks will help you set yourself up right. Make this year the year you flip those hard-to-stick-to resolutions into real, achievable goals that create lifelong healthy habits.
#1: Write your health goals down on paper.
Writing a goal down on paper may seem basic, but it’s one of the most powerful things you can do when trying to make a healthy lifestyle change. In fact, Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, found in her study on the art and science of goal setting that people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals and dreams simply by writing them down.
Writing your goals down also helps you focus on what it is you really want to achieve. Think of it as the adult version of a dream board. You don’t have to go full out, cutting and pasting images from your favorite magazines, but it is a great practice to help you visualize exactly what you want to do and how you plan to do it.
Why paper and not your smartphone or laptop? Well, that comes down to science and how your brain works as well. Numerous studies have proven that those who handwrite notes or goals (versus typing them) can commit them to memory longer. That means when your brain is trying to filter out the noise, what you’ve written down is going to be recalled faster and with more urgency. What better way to help you keep a goal than to constantly have it on your mind?!
What you need: Journals are a great place to keep track of goals, but all you really need is a pen and paper. Once you put your goals in writing, place the paper in an area where you’ll see it often. “Out of sight, out of mind” can’t be your excuse this year!
#2: Plan to complete small, micro-goals.
The quickest way to get disappointed when trying to make healthy lifestyle changes is to set a general goal that doesn’t have quick victories. Some of the biggest offenders in this category (and most often abandoned) are the ever-popular goals of losing weight, eating healthier, and working out more. So to keep yourself motivated and seeing progress, take these big, long-term goals and break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks that you can actually achieve.
For example, if your goal is to lose 25 pounds, break it into 5-pound segments and celebrate when you reach it. The same rings true if your goal is to exercise more. Instead of saying you’re going to work out every day, start on a smaller scale and aim for twenty minutes a day, three times a week. If you do more, that’s a bonus! Remember, the benefits of exercise and being active are cumulative. That means even if you only have time for short bursts of activity on certain days, it can and will help your overall health in the long run.
Micro-goals are also a great practice if you’re simply trying to eat healthier too. Set specific goals that will help you create healthy, lifestyle habits like eating 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables per meal to fill up on low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods; drinking approximately half your body weight in ounces of water daily; taking a daily vitamin and/or supplements for any nutrients your body is lacking in; or opting for lean protein meals or a salad (with dressing on the side) when you do need to eat out.
This micro-goal mindset lets you grab victories early and often and continually realize the difference your changes are making in your health. It also gives you the motivation you need to keep going and sets you up for new lifestyle habits that can be sustained for life.
What you need: Create a plan for the week that helps put your micro-goals into action. Outline what your goal(s) are, what you’re currently doing, any roadblocks you have, what you can change, and how you plan to change it. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking off an item on your goal list as complete!
#3: Revisit how you’re doing every Monday.
Monday check-ins help keep you on task for completing your health goals as well. Ask yourself, did I do what I said I would do? Did I follow the plan? Keep in mind that this is not an all-or-nothing assessment. It’s simply giving yourself the chance to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and if you need to make any changes to set yourself up for even more success.
What you need: Set a calendar reminder to review your goals every Monday morning. This weekly practice gives you a chance to alter course and refocus so you can claim and celebrate those victories!
#4: Assemble your entourage.
Accountability is another big factor in making sure you accomplish your health goals. In the same study that showed writing goals down helped people accomplish them, Dr. Matthews also found that more than 70 percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend successfully completed their goal.
Try to choose one person, whether it’s a friend, trainer, coworker, or family member that can be your weekly accountability partner. But it’s also a good idea to rally a crew that helps you make your goals more sustainable in the long-term. For instance, reach out to a friend that loves cooking to give you tips on making some of your favorite recipes healthier. Invite another friend to do daily walks or workouts with you. Call up another to plan a relaxing spa visit or a day out. Or, schedule an active day hiking or biking with friends. The list is endless on who you can recruit to help you reach your goals and have fun while you’re at it!
What you need: Scroll through your contact list or social media friends and start building your crew. You can also recruit the help of family members, a personal trainer, health coach, your AlignLife chiropractor, or even a local chef to help you in your journey of making healthier choices this year. How big you make your entourage is up to you!
#5: Celebrate your success.
Celebrating your victories – even if they are small – will keep your motivation high and help you stick to your long-term goals. This also sparks the rewards circuitry in your brain, signaling it to release those happy hormones that make you feel good about how far you’ve come. Celebrations can be as basic as sharing your success with friends or have a tangible reward like planning a fun day or night out, buying a new outfit, or taking a dream-big vacation. Whatever you choose, make it something that helps you strive toward your goal!
What you need: Grab the paper you wrote your goals down on and add how you’ll celebrate completing it to each. You might even consider putting visual reminders of your rewards right next to your goal sheet or in another high-traffic spot that you’ll see throughout your day.
Need help defining this year’s health goals?
Consider a trip to your local AlignLife chiropractor. Chiropractic care not only helps you remove roadblocks like aches and pains caused by subluxations. It also helps you remove any noise and restore function to key body systems that misalignments can cause. In fact, these misalignments could even be the cause of some of your roadblocks and “symptoms.” This includes things like headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, and weight gain.
Talk to your AlignLife chiropractor about your health goals and how they can help improve your overall wellness and nutrition.