SALT LAKE CITY — So you’ve set your New Year’s resolutions to become healthier. Jan. 1 came along and with it, your ambition, excitement and declaration to finally meet your health goals. This will be the year. You may have already changed your eating habits, are exercising more or getting more sleep.
But the unfortunate reality is by the time February rolls around, many people find their motivation to be lacking and their dreams of achieving big goals have faded. They might settle back into the same old routines and go on as they were before the new year.
To help, here are five tips to keep your dreams bright and your motivation going past the first few weeks in the year:
1. Find your true motivation
Take some time to sit down and think about the reasons why you wanted to make changes in the first place. Are you motivated because you want to look and feel good for an upcoming event? Is it so you can be active with your kids and grandkids as they grow up? Do you want to be strong and independent as you age? Whatever the reasons behind your motivation, write them down and put them somewhere to remind yourself why you made these changes in the first place and continue to do so on a daily basis.
2. Set short-term goals
Let's say your goal is to run a marathon but you have never run a race before. It would be wise to start out with a few shorter races first. For example, running a 5K, 10K or half marathon before going straight for your ultimate race goal of a full marathon.
The same logic can be applied to any goal. Don't try to change everything all at once. Long-term goals are excellent to have but having short-term goals in place help support you in reaching your long-term goal. Plus, it feels good to achieve something along your journey. I recommend setting SMART goals. Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Write them down and visualize yourself doing and achieving them.
3. Think of possible roadblocks ahead of time
One thing to keep in mind on your journey to living healthier is to be flexible. Ultimately, there may be roadblocks that lead you off your path to wellness. Think ahead of what could possibly hinder you from achieving your goals. After thinking of those hurdles, try creating a solution for overcoming them. This is where flexibility comes in. It might not be part of plan A to work toward your goal in a new or different way, but plans B or C can still lead you to achieve your ultimate goal.
Coming up with these action plans will help if — or when — roadblocks appear. You'll be better prepared to overcome them and keep working toward your goals.
4. Make it fun
This one may sound obvious but it's surprising how many people don't include having fun as part of their goals. If you enjoy something, you're more likely to do it on a consistent basis. If you normally hate cooking, try turning on your favorite songs and having a cooking party in the kitchen while making dinner. If you dread exercise, find ways to enjoy moving your body, such as taking a dance class or joining a martial arts center. Find creative ways to add in some pleasure while working toward your ultimate health goals.
5. Find an accountability partner
Whether it be a family member, friend, neighbor, coworker or even your healthcare provider, find someone to hold yourself accountable to your health goals. Tell them about your goals and let them be your personal cheerleader. Even better, see if they want to join you on your journey to wellness. You can root for each other in living a healthier life.
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