When you set out to accomplish something, what is the most important step? Playing out your goals. Without a clear roadmap to measure your success against, how will you be able to accomplish the overall task? But setting goals is not as simple as just defining your objective. If you have a home project idea like renovating the kitchen, you can’t just say “I want a new kitchen.” You have to come up with a plan. Will you get new cabinets or paint over the old ones? What appliances need updating? What type of flooring will work with your design choices? You have to determine what your goals are before getting started.
The same is true when it comes to your health. Your objective of becoming healthier is not enough to get started on the journey. You need more specific goals that you can target on your journey that give you a roadmap to achieving your dream. Health goals could fall under many categories, from fitness goals to mental health improvements.
You have to know how to set effective goals to have a chance of succeeding on your health journey. Here are a few strategies for setting effective health goals.
Have a Defined Endgame
If your goals are not specific, then why even bother setting them? A poor goal that you might set is to “lose weight”. But you could change the metric for that goal depending on the day. If you lose four pounds, you have technically met your goal, but do you feel or look the way you want to? Did anything really change? Instead, come up with a specific objective that will be obvious when you achieve it. I want to lose 35 pounds. I want to finish a 5k without walking. I want to include a fruit or vegetable in every meal for a month. These are the kinds of goals that have a defined endgame and are easy to determine if you met them or not.
Nothing is more discouraging than trying to pursue a health goal and realizing that it is too lofty and you will never reach it. A lot of people set unrealistic goals for themselves and once they believe their progress to be too slow, they give up. This is why the beginning of every year sees so many new people in gyms, but then by the end of February, it is back to the usual crowd. A lot of those people may have set unrealistic goals of going to the gym three times a week after not having gone to one for years. It would’ve been wiser to ramp up to it slowly, maybe going to the gym once a week at first and then twice a week after a month. The more realistic your goals, the easier they will be to achieve and provide inspiration for the next milestone.
Every health journey requires a lot of steps. It may take a lot of work to get from investing no time in your day for mental health to dedicating several hours a week. For this reason, you should think about your goals incrementally. What is the first, small step that you can accomplish? If you have fitness goals, maybe you can start with a light, five-minute jog in the morning. Do you want to eat healthier for the day? Take a dietary supplement in the morning to put you in a health-focused mindset for the rest of the day, providing you with the encouragement needed to choose balanced foods. Want to improve your balance? Spend a minute balancing on foot to start the day. When you break down your goals into smaller steps, you will find it easier to move through them and inch closer to the overall objective.
Be Forgiving of Yourself
Pursuing better wellness is not easy, especially if you are making big changes in your life. It is easy to get distracted or disrupted from your journey when other life circumstances pop up. Or maybe you just feel exhausted and don’t have the energy to put into your goal that day. This is more than okay. You have to be willing to give yourself grace while pursuing your goals. The path to better health is not a straight line, and the sooner you accept that the better your chance of success will be. You are going to fail sometimes. You are going to hit roadblocks. But these obstacles do not have to derail you completely. Allow yourself forgiveness and refer back to the previous strategy. Take it one step at a time and get back on the path without feeling shame or guilt for the detour.
Remember to Reward Yourself
Based on the above strategies, you probably have a better understanding of why setting goals is not so simple. They have to be realistic, specific, and incremental. You also have to be willing to forgive yourself when you stray from the path rather than be discouraged.
But the last and possibly most crucial aspect of setting health goals is to reward yourself when you reach them. Take a moment to be proud of what you have accomplished to this point, even if it is just a small step. Celebrating your milestones can help motivate you to reach the next one, all the way until you hit that final objective. Be smart with your goal-setting and you will have a better chance of achieving the overall wellness that you desire.