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How to create healthy habits and set realistic goals for the New Year

Tuesday, 5 January 2021 / Topics:

Be realistic

For many of us, the new year is a time for holidays, fun and well-deserved rest and relaxation. During this time we tend to forget about our regular life and the stresses that come along with it. As a result, we tend to set goals that are overambitious and unrealistic, perhaps better suited to the holiday version of you rather than the “real life” version of you. Sure, cooking a home cooked meal each night doesn’t seem hard when you’ve got the week off work and the supermarket is at the end of your fingertips. However, it’s important to think about how realistic it is when you’re back at work, your meetings run late, you have to take the kids to sports practice and are juggling a long to-do list. Setting realistic goals will increase your likelihood of success.


Set small goals

Instead of creating one main, large goal at the start of the year try to create smaller, more achievable goals throughout the year. Small goals are more manageable and easier to achieve, ultimately increasing your confidence and motivation to succeed. For example, if your long-term goal is to run a marathon but you haven’t run in years, one of your smaller goals might be to run one kilometre without stopping. Then you might increase this to two kilometres, three kilometres, four kilometres and so on. Or, if your goal is to drink less soft drink, you could start by cutting your intake in half. Then, you could try to include a few soft drink free days each week. Small, incremental goals are highly motivating, allowing you to continuously see your progress.


Celebrate the small wins

Celebrations make us feel good. Celebrating yourself and your accomplishments no matter how big or small they are will spark the reward circuitry of your brain and cause the release of chemicals that will make you feel happy. The happier we feel, the more motivated we will be to continue to do the thing we’re celebrating in the first place, helping turn the accomplishment into a long-term habit.


Think about the ‘why’

One of the most important parts of goal setting is understanding the ‘why’ behind the goal. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to quit smoking? Your ‘why’ is your biggest motivator and knowing the reasons behind why you want to reach a goal will help drive you to keep working towards that goal. Your ‘why’ should be personal to you and nobody else. For example if your goal is to lose weight, YOUR ‘why’ might be to improve your health, lower your blood pressure or as advice from your GP.  Goals require work and persistence and if you’re not personally connected to your goal, excuses will become easier and easier to make.