The New Year brings not only the shifting of a year and scribbles on every piece of paper that requires a date, but also, a feeling of renewal. As glasses clink on New Year’s Eve, and the countdown reaches ten seconds, many of us are overwhelmed with hope and promises to make this year the best yet. We create our list of “New Me” to-dos and on January 1 we are determined to make our futures full of amazing accomplishments. On the very same New Year’s Eve, the other 60 percent of us simply drink our champagne or sparkling grape juice quietly while enjoying the company around us. We know that since we have failed to meet our New Year’s resolutions in the past that there is simply no point in making them again.
Fast-forward one month, the holidays are weeks behind us, our bank accounts are recovering and kids have finally returned to school. Essentially, our lives are back to normal, and those of us who made resolutions may now be merely a statistic. According to the Washington Post, of the 40 percent of us who decided to make New Year’s resolutions 92 percent will abandon them. Many of us find that weeks after screaming, “Happy New Year!” our level of happiness or complacency is the same, our passion for life levels off to a comfortable degree, and we are once more enchantingly smitten with our consumption of cookies in the office break room. What happened and how can we be that 8% of the population that actually does achieve their New Year’s resolutions? We may not have succeeded in keeping our original New Year’s resolution or one in New Year’s past, but together today we can create our comeback resolutions to lead healthier and happier lives. And stick to them!
In today’s blog post, we will explore how we can achieve our renewed resolutions, the process of setting goals, and four tips for achieving your goals that can help you to create a comeback resolution and stick to it.
“Call it a Comeback”: 4 Tips for Reaching your Goals
We all love a comeback story that demonstrates the power of the human heart and mind to achieve what seems impossible. We all know and love the story of the team who came back from losing by 30 points or the person who was told that they would never walk again and takes their first step after a long stay at rehab. We, too, can create our own comeback story which begins in the form of a “Comeback Resolution.” Not only can this be our comeback story based on our original New Year’s resolution, but also the comeback story on our paths to wellness. While NYE is a wonderful reminder to let go of the past and start fresh, it is not the only day that matters; so does today.
We can start setting goals today by giving ourselves 20 minutes to consider what we would like to achieve. What would you like to achieve this year, in five years, or in 10? What daily, weekly and monthly goals can you set? SMART Goals, or goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based provide a wonderful template for setting goals if you need some extra guidance.
Create a Comeback Vision
Teenagers and small children are the best at asking, “well, why?” or “why not?” They do this because they want to know the emotional and/or rational reasoning for partaking or refraining from a certain behavior. As adults, and in a much less annoying fashion, we also need to ask ourselves “why?” Why do we want to lose weight? Why is that going to make us feel better? How will meditating daily affect my life?
From asking yourselves these types of questions, you can create a visual representation of your motivation by imagining what life would look like when you reach your goals. Allow yourself to get lost in creating this vision by answering the following questions: What are you doing in your “new” life? What are you able to do that you weren’t previously able to? What are you wearing? Where in the world are you? Who are you with? What look is on your face? How do you feel? Write it down or create a work of art representing your vision. Then on a daily basis, try to connect with your healthy vision by writing it in a journal, hanging it on our walls at home or calling a friend to discuss it.
As a word of caution, when creating your vision and “why” make sure to ground both in wellness and the creation of healthy habits. As Carrie Dennett from the Washington Post emphasizes in the following quote:
“Embrace new habits that are good for whole-body health regardless of whether they lead to a change in weight. Because it’s pretty clear that exercise and nutrition improve health, why not just focus on building better habits on those fronts, letting weight take a back seat? Eating foods that provide balanced nutrition,are delicious and leave you feeling good has inherent value. So does moving your body regularly. So does getting enough sleep and managing stress.”
Our why’s and our visions need to come from a healthy place within us. Societal pressure to look a certain way can be tempting in terms of goal setting and finding our why’s, but we want to make sure that our goal is sustainable and promotes health as well.
Tip #1: Setting Small Goals
Once we have a compelling vision of what we want our lives to look like, now it’s time to think about our comeback strategy. It’s best to first set small, achievable goals within your larger vision and ultimate goal. When we set a huge goal without considering the details, we get lost in it and execution falls short as daily life demands our attention. Small steps are necessary to not only feel like a winner, but also in being motivated to continue meeting our ultimate goal. For example, perhaps your ultimate goal is to lose 20 pounds, but in order to achieve that goal a strategy must be set in place. First create a general goal or blueprint, such as eat clean and work out for 30 minutes per day. Then, zoom in on what that will look like in a tangible way. How will you eat clean? What does eating clean mean to you? What can you replace your go-to sugar craving with within the clean eating lifestyle? What should your grocery list look like? Who can help you to achieve this goal?
Gaining support and accountability for reaching our goals can be the difference between success and failure for some. At the Center for Healthy Living at Purdue West (1400 W State St) health and wellness coaches, Registered Dietitian, pharmacist, and medical staff can certainly be of help in supporting your wellness goals and helping you to create a solid strategy. Add in the benefit of earning cash from the Healthy Boiler Program and you have a recipe for success and extra funds in your HSA.
Once, you have committed to your smaller goals, try them out for a week or two and then reassess if what you did is sustainable for the long-term. If it worked well, then continue with your plan and add in new healthy elements. Reassess again in another two weeks when you meet with your health coach or dietitian and continue this process.
Tip #2: Be Flexible
A flexible approach to wellness creates a space for multiple strategies to emerge which will help you to reach your goal and enjoy yourself along the way. In order to meet our ultimate goal, we need to be flexible in our strategies for meeting smaller goals. After you reassess your plan, you may find the goal of going to the gym everyday to work out overwhelms you and makes you feel defeated. Instead of beating yourself up for not liking the gym, decide to readjust and workout at home for 30 minutes every day to see if that works better. Wellness should be sustainable and focused on creating healthier habits, and if you find that a new healthy habit doesn’t work for you then don’t sweat it (no pun intended). Be flexible in changing your routine and continue to check in with yourself.
Tip #3: Be Gentle
We are human, and usually we crave a quick-fix. In our busy lives, we like to see results…and now! But, if you know you’re on your way and on the right track, all that’s left to do is remain patient. Continue to reassess your strategies for meeting your goals and try not to beat yourself up if you do not meet them on time or with 100% compliance. We need to remain excited and accountable for achieving our goals, but beating ourselves up will only make us dread the process. Just like the classic comeback story we see on the silver screen, we must be willing to meet challenges head on, have a vision for success, encouragement from our supporters, and be able to bounce back from disappointment.
In conclusion, regardless of whether or not we meet a specific goal in a specified timeframe, the most important thing is that we see health and wellness as a lifelong adventure and remain committed to learning more. Health and wellness will always be an ongoing learning and implementation process as there are countless ways to enhance our wellbeing. Just wait until you reach the monthly spa day routine! We can use goal setting as a way to change behavior, but what also needs to change is our attitudes and beliefs about what it takes to be our best selves. We must come to believe that we are worthy of health and wellness, that we need it in our lives, and that it does enhance our wellbeing and the way we feel about ourselves, our lives, and the world around us.
Blog post written by Katie, a member of the One to One Wellness Health Coaching Team at The Center for Healthy Living on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.