Is it too late to say Happy New Year? According to Larry David, yes, but we’ll say it anyway. Happy New Year!
One thing we know for sure is that it’s not too late to set your 2023 goals. And while some studies show that many people have already ditched their resolutions, today is a great day to set or revisit your goals for the year.
According to Forbes, here are the most common resolutions:
Improve mental health (45%)
Improve fitness (39%)
Lose weight (37%)
Improve diet (33%)
Improve finances (30%)
It’s no surprise that health goals make up 80% of the top five, and that’s exactly what we’ll be exploring today.
At HealthJoy we think it’s important for everyone to have at least one health-related goal. Accountability is one of our core values, and we’re here to help you set, stick to, and accomplish those goals. So, let’s look at five keys to setting great health goals.
Key 1: Set SMART goals
If you hear someone say “set smart goals” it may sound a bit obvious. But what they’re likely referring to is the acronym SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This goal setting framework makes it more likely you’ll work towards and achieve each of your goals.
Specific: Goals need to be clear and detailed. Vague goals can feel overwhelming. Don't say, "I want to be more active." Instead, say, "I will exercise 30 minutes, five days a week."
Measurable: If you have no way to measure a goal, it's tough to know when you've met it. "I'm going to lose weight" is a popular goal that works better with a measurable outcome, such as "I'm going to lose 15 pounds by December."
Attainable: Avoid overly grand goals. They should be based on what you realistically can do now.
Relevant: Is your goal important to your life right now? It needs to have a purpose, or you may find it difficult to stick with.
Time-bound: Is your goal something that you can take on right now — or is it best to save it for another time? Also, is the time frame you chose suitable? You probably won't be able to safely lose 20 pounds in three weeks or master a new skill in a few months. Make sure you give yourself adequate time.
By using the SMART goal framework, you can identify and work towards your goals and track your progress along the way.
Key 2: Find an accountability partner (or group)
Figuring out what the right support system is for you could make a world of difference when it comes to the outcome of your health goals. Whether it is social support, like joining a challenge to get 10,000 steps a day with a few close friends, or having a partner you go to the gym with, this support helps in many ways.
It helps us be aware of our progress and track it more frequently since we are regularly discussing progress with the same people.
We can find encouragement from the group or partner and celebrate hitting major milestones.
It can help us adhere to the necessary steps. If your goal is to reduce screen time in order to improve sleep and your accountability partner is your wife, you’re in the battle together and can help promote healthy habits for one another. Or if you’re trying to improve your cardio health, an accountability partner can be the difference between hitting the gym and hitting the couch on a rainy day.
No matter what your support system looks like, you don’t need to work towards your goals alone! And it’s not just other people that can help. Consider leveraging technology to keep you on track.
While this one might seem like a no-brainer, it’s critically important that our goals are important to us. In the same way that it was easier to learn in the subjects that interested us in school, goals that have meaning are easier to accomplish. People aren’t only more committed to achieving them, but they lead to a great sense of accomplishment upon completion.
For example, “improving mental health” may not sound like a motivating goal by itself. But “being more present when spending time with family and friends” adds a personal importance to the goal. Personalizing or anchoring goals around something important can make goals feel less abstract and drum up motivation.
Key 4: Break bigger goals into smaller ones
This one’s simple. Bite-sized tasks feel easier than daunting ones. The idea of cleaning your entire house can be so overwhelming that you might procrastinate even starting. However, if you break it down into a list of manageable chores, it can kickstart your progress.
The same is true for your health goals.
So, if one of your goals this year is to finish a 10k race, consider breaking it out into several goals like running three times per week, running three miles at race pace, or completing a 5k. Starting small can lead to big results and less discouragement as we set out to accomplish our goals.
Key 5: Reward yourself
According to Psych Central, rewards help us “feel energized, cared for, and content, which boosts our self-command — and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.”
So, science is telling us what we already know: rewards are fun. So, how do we reward ourselves to hit our health goals?
One way is a purchase related to a goal. For example, if your goal is to cook more at home, you can reward yourself with a brand new cookware set after the 25th dinner you make at home.
Another way (that relates back to an earlier key) is to reward yourself by posting progress, so others can celebrate your accomplishment with you. So, whether you complete a race, head to therapy for the first time, or eat vegetarian for six months, don’t be afraid to tell others about your progress. By doing so, you’ll unlock the reward of positive reinforcement, which is one of the most powerful sources of motivation.
Get out there and accomplish those goals!
No matter what your health goals are for 2023—you’ve got this! Use the tips above as a starting place, figure out what works for you, and accomplish what you set your mind to this year.
And be sure to stay tuned to the HealthJoy blog. Through a recently launched onboarding experience, members were able to share their personal health goals with the HealthJoy app. We’re looking forward to sharing more original data and insights related to those health goals in the near future.