By Sara Rice

We are already one month into the new year. Since 2020 seemed to be a year in pause for a lot of us, many have had a renewed inclination for creating new goals this year! If you have not made a new year’s resolution yet – it’s okay! There is never a wrong time to set a new goal or intention to work towards! Today I would like to share with you some tips I have found useful for myself when thinking of a new goal. 

Many of the following examples are from a health perspective, but can be applied for many different habit changes. 

The first tip is to create a specific goal that you can work towards and achieve every week. Stay away from goals that are too broad, stick with goals that are specific enough to hold you accountable. A goal to lose 15 pounds by June is a very broad goal. Hold yourself accountable and plan out how you will accomplish that goal. Weight loss could be the broad, overall goal, but having a goal of eating more nutrient dense food and creating time to be more physically active will hold you accountable. Creating a goal of walking for 20 minutes for 5 days a week, is a more specific goal that you can plan accordingly to. Creating a goal of “eating healthier” but not having any definite plan of doing so, will leave you feeling off track and stuck. Instead, a goal of “I’m going to try 2 new fruits or vegetables every week” is a specified goal that you can plan for. In addition, goals that are focused on adding, instead of restriction are easier to achieve because your goal is focused on what you can add into your life instead of taking away. For me, it has always been more fun to think of what I can add into my life, instead of taking away. 

Also remember to give yourself grace. Try not to get stuck in the cycle of messing up and then giving up altogether.  Remember the purpose of the goal is create a healthy change to your life that benefits your life for the long run. A goal shouldn’t always have a definite end date–our lives are always in flux–so should be our goals. If you start the new year with a certain goal in mind, but your life changes, it is okay to align your goal with the change in your life. Hold yourself accountable but allow room for error, and then continue to get back on track. There is always something you probably have improved on, even without realizing it. If you had a goal of being able to complete 25 squats without rest, but haven’t been able to achieve it, try finding something you have improved on! Maybe your form improved, maybe you are able to stand up from a chair better than before, or maybe you just were more active trying to reach this goal than if you weren’t trying. Finding things that you have improved on will motivate you further to continue on.

A good way to hold yourself accountable is to think about why you want to create this change… what is your why? What feeling are you wanting to achieve during, and to sustain after this goal? To be continually motivated by your goal, think about your “why” often. Also take note of the progress you made simply by just starting the goal. If your goal was to eat healthier, but feel like you “slipped up” too many times, take note of how many healthier meals you did eat; did you try a new healthy recipe that you enjoyed? Remember your why and get back to it!

Think about your goal in terms of a lifestyle change – usually goals are here to improve an area of your life. What habit or lifestyle change are you trying to instill? If you think of your goal as a lifestyle change, it may be easier to continue on if you fall off track. You will have your whole life to continue working on yourself! 

To recap:

  • Create specific goals that can be achieved each week  
  • Stay away from goals that are too broad, stick with goals that are specific and can be accounted for
  • Grace. Give yourself grace, don’t be too hard on yourself. Hold yourself accountable but allow room for error, grace, and continuation of goal. 
  • What is your why? What feeling are you trying to achieve by reaching this goal? How will you feel if this goal becomes reality? 
  • Lifestyle changes and instilling healthy habits versus a goal that is a one-time change. 

Goals shouldn’t be a stress inducing. Goals are a way for you to feel motivated in your life and to work towards something you value. If you find your goal is taking joy out of your life or adding more stress than necessary, take a break, re-evaluate and find something that brings you joy!