January 2, 2014
Happy New Year and welcome to 2014! If you’re like most people, you’re feeling optimistic about a fresh start, and chances are high that at least one of your New Year’s resolutions is about being healthier. Well congrats! That’s a good place to be— Optimistically thinking about your health.
Here are 3 guidelines to help set yourself up for success with your health goals in 2014.
1) Set the Bar Low
We know, it sounds like poor advice that’s counter intuitive to everything you’ve heard about reaching for the stars. But behavioral change happens incrementally and nothing is more demoralizing than unsustainable goals. If you exercised twice in December, setting a goal to exercise for an hour every day in January is sure to fail. Instead set aside daily tasks that only take 10-15 minutes— 15 minutes of jogging or walking, 10 minutes of meditation, or 10 minutes of jumping rope. Commit to it for a month. When you succeed, then go ahead and increase the challenge if you’re up for it, but not until you’ve already formed a habit around an attainable goal.
2) Create Accountability
If you didn’t hold yourself to your goals last year, is anything really different this year? People who make their commitments public are more likely to follow through, so share your goals with friends and colleagues to increase your accountability. Additionally, people who work in groups benefit from the support network and encouragement to push on when they might not on their own. Recruit a few people at work and form a walking group. Commit to taking a walk for 10-15 minutes everyday before lunch. This will help keep you thinking about your health, and before you know it, your network will grow, and perhaps your commitments will too.
3) Be Specific
“I’m going to eat better,” or “I’m going to exercise more,” won’t lead to success. You don’t know if you’re achieving your goals or not so you quickly let yourself off the hook. “I’m going to do 100 pushups and 100 squats every day,” or “I’m going to eat vegetables at every meal” will provide you with much better feedback on whether or not you’re sticking to your goals, thereby increasing the chances that you will.
Want more ideas about setting yourself up for success? Well you’re in luck, we’re not the only folks writing about a healthier 2014. Here are some fantastic resources to help you out:
The Harvard Business Review:
Achieve Your Goals in 2014— Here’s Research That Can Help
The New York Times:
Sustainable Resolutions to Your Diet
Well + Good:
Healthiest Year Ever