Aristotle famously stated: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Setting healthy goals for the New Year may be the first step. However, turning healthy New Year’s resolutions into healthy lifelong habits should be the end goal. Find out how by reading these 4 easy steps.
1. Set your goal
Always set goals that follow the SMART guidelines. Your New Year’s resolutions should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Decide on a clear, specific goal by deciding on what you want to achieve, why it’s important to achieve it and who else will be involved.Ensure all your goals are measurable to ensure progress can be tracked. Make sure it is possible to achieve your goal. This does not necessarily mean that your goals should not be challenging. It does, however mean that goals should be realistic based on how the goal can be achieved and which constraints have been identified.
One of the main things to remember at this stage is that you only have control over your own actions and not those of anybody else. For example, “My goal is for my family to eat more vegetables” may not be attainable as it relies on the actions of your family members. It’s more achievable to decide that your goal is to ensure that you cook healthier meals with more vegetables, as your own actions can then be measured. A relevant goal is goal that matters to you. Your goal needs to be something that you feel is worthwhile. It must be important to you and where you are in life. A timely goal is one that has a target date. This is where you can divide the goal up into what needs to be done and when it should be completed by.
2. Ensure your goal is visible
Once you’ve decided on your final goals, write them down in ink and make a commitment to yourself. Put your written goals up somewhere visible. Seeing your goals will serve as a daily reminder of where your priorities lie. This will motivate you to keep pushing to achieve what your feel is important to you. Mark your target dates down on a calendar. Seeing your goals in your schedule generally means you’ll be more willing to commit and make it a routine. Remember to check off the goals you’ve already achieved on your calendar. Make checking off your goals a positive experience and use it as further motivation to continue striving for excellence.
3. Sweat the small stuff
While the bigger picture is what we tend to focus on, the small, positive decisions and choices you make along the way deserve acknowledgment. The small victories, such as taking the stairs over the lift or drinking two litres of water every day, are important building blocks in achieving and then maintaining your goals. The things that we tend to see as insignificant are the habits that need to be maintained once the SMART goals set have been reached.
4. Each day is a new opportunity to make a healthier choice
One unhealthy meal does not make it impossible for you to achieve your health-related goals. You should not give up on your goals due to one or two blunders. Avoid linking food and unhealthy decisions with punishment. Remember that we are all human. The most important thing is to wake up and to try be the very best possible version of yourself. If today you find that you’ve struggled to reach your goals, promise yourself that tomorrow you will try even harder.
Changing habits and lifelong behaviours may not always be easy. It is important to remember the power to change formed habits is in the hands of the very person who formed those unhealthy habits to begin with. A study conducted in 2009 by University College, London showed that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. This means that all it takes to achieve healthier habits and subsequent excellence is 66 days of healthier choices.