How to Set Health Goals & Stay Motivated
Author: Alex Hamlin
Setting goals and identifying your underlying motivation really is the key. Setting goals is the simple part. By following the SMART goal strategy (outlined below) it will help to make goal setting even easier. How do you set, remember and stick to your health goals once and for all?
WHAT ARE SMART GOALS?
Goals help us define what we want to do and how to measure the progress. They are the key to getting your brain on board to support your health journey and help guide you and keep you focused on what you really want to achieve – providing direction, motivation and empowerment around daily decisions.
Goal setting is easy, yet it can become overwhelming when trying to achieve and plan for too many goals at once. This year try setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) goals so you can stay on track and feel motivated (beyond February) to achieve them.
Use this tried and tested goal strategy to set smaller, specific goals to avoid the overwhelm of unrealistic and vague health objectives.
- Specific: Create goals that are clear and include fine details by describing exactly what the new habit will be. Instead of setting a goal to ‘eat more vegetables’, be more specific ‘I will fill half my plate with crunchy salad vegetables at lunch and dinner’.
- Measurable: Define a measure that will indicate when the goal has been achieved. It is important to measure your progress and hold yourself accountable to keep you on track. Use a journal, app, calendar, check list to track and tick off your new healthy habit as it's completed.
- Attainable: Set goals that are realistic and attainable for you to achieve. Place yourself in the position to be able to achieve your goals and this will mean you are more likely to stick to your goal.
- Relevant: Create goals that are relevant to you and your lifestyle – make sure they are realistic and consistent with the outcome to help avoid setbacks. When you place unrealistic expectations on yourself on the outcome it will be hard to stay motivated and reach your goals.
- Time-bound: A goal without a starting point and deadline is easy to put off. Set goals that can be completed in a specific time frame and this will also help make you more accountable to achieve it.
Here are some questions to consider when writing your goals:
- How do I want to feel?
- What exactly do I want to achieve?
- How will I track my progress? Is this achievable?
- Do I have what I need to make it possible Is this relevant and realistic for me right now?
- Is this consistent with my outcome?
- How long do I want to give myself to achieve the goal?
Aim to work towards setting three to five goals, with one of them being your biggest, umbrella goal. For example, if your biggest goal is to lose 10kgs, think about the smaller goals that are going to help you achieve this, that way you can achieve and tick them off easily. The satisfaction of ticking something off on your path to success is an excellent motivation tool too!
Closely connect all your goals back to ‘why’ – Why do you want to achieve these goals in the first place? From here, the smaller goals that are easy to build on will keep you motivated and help you achieve your biggest goal in the long-term.
Now you have set your health goals, sticking to them and remaining motivated is an entirely different story. Research suggests that self-motivated goals are more likely to be achieved therefore it’s important to reflect and understand what it is that drives you and understand exactly how you want to feel. This will make it a lot easier to keep on track, stay motivated and achieve your goals.
Here are some tips for staying motivated:
- Always come back to your ‘why’ and how you want to feel. If this is clear it will be a lot easier to take consistent actionable steps every day. Set yourself up for long term change and success.
- Visualize yourself achieving your goals. Visualize and feel into the emotions of what it will be like to achieve the outcome and feel this every day.
- Get an accountability buddy and support network. Share your goals with your partner, work colleagues, friends and family or become part of a virtual community with like-minded people. Get them on board for the extra support you deserve.
- Celebrate your wins, even the small ones. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you completed a goal. Celebrate all your wins, big and small as ultimately, they all contribute to healthy and positive changes.
- Let go of perfectionism. Try not to stress if you slip up, forget or fall off track. Tomorrow is a new day, get out of the downward spiral, acknowledge slip ups and move on.
- Plan ahead and schedule it in – Set yourself up for success by planning ahead e.g., leave a gym bag in the car, make your lunch the night before, prep your smoothies in advance. Remember to block out time in your calendar to participate and take action towards your goals too. If time is put aside, you’re more likely to get the task done.
- Be patient. Remember, new healthy habits take time and your body and mind need a period to adapt and adjust so practice patience, commitment and consistency.
Let’s do this! Put these simple strategies to use and achieve the outcomes you desire. And if you need nutritional support to help you achieve those goals then you’ve come to the right place.