Reflect on the current year. What went right? What did you achieve? Where did you have success? What were the challenges? What barriers to success did you encounter? How can you solve these challenges? What can you learn from them? How can you overcome these barriers to succeed in the future?
Use those “honest” reflections to set goals, not make resolutions. Develop a process and make plans to achieve those goals. After all, a goal without a plan is just a hope or a wish. The plan is your roadmap to achieving your goals. Focusing on the process of what it will take to achieve a goal can be more important than the goal itself. Sticking to the process will most times result in better outcomes as an accumulation of the effort. Focusing on the process will help you develop the necessary daily habits for a long-term change.
Easier to achieve
Another reason to set goals and make plans for the New Year instead of making resolutions is to make it easier to achieve those goals when things get hard. With a simple resolution, inevitably after a month or so of healthier eating and more exercise, you will hit a wall and want to back off or quit. This is why most resolutions don’t work. If you are committed to the process of healthier eating and exercising regularly, you are more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.
What the goals can include
Remember that wellness includes physical, mental, and emotional well-being (among other factors) and they are all connected. Make goals that focus on improving your mental and emotional well-being as well as your physical well-being.
Why wait for the New Year?
A goal of losing 15 lbs. is a fine goal, but also think about what losing weight (and the process of healthier eating and exercising more) will do for your mental or emotional health. And vice-versa, how will improving your mental and emotional well-being improve your physical well-being (less stress and emotional eating!). Make a plan to journal, meditate, stretch, or practice gratitude every day to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing and by proxy your physical and overall wellness.
And lastly, you don’t have to wait until January 1st to make a goal and plan for a healthier life – you can do this any time of the year!
Alison Bradow is the chronic disease prevention coordinator at the YMCA of Metropolitan Lansing. Contact her at (517) 827-9656 or at ymcaoflansing.org.