“Your body hears everything your mind says.”
– Naomi Judd
2021 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been.
With 2022 around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get into the “new year new me” mindset.
It’s refreshing to come to the end of the year and have the opportunity to start over, shake off some bad habits, and gain some good ones.
That being said, how many times have you set a New Years resolution that didn’t make it past January? How many of your wellness goals get placed in a queue for the following year, year after year? It’s safe to say that at some point in your life, you’ve experienced this.
But how can you break this cycle, and make “new year new me” a reality?
Failed New Years resolutions has nothing to do with your ability to achieve goals and everything to do with the way you’re thinking about your goals.
How? Most wellness goals are 1 liners or less than 4 words. No matter how great your goals may be, they’re incomplete. You need to do more thinking upfront when setting your goals if you really want to achieve the end results you desire.
Goals are end results, and though it’s important to know where you’re going, you also need to know how you’re going to get there.
For example, you can say, “I’m going to California.” But simply saying that isn’t going to get you there. You need to think about modes of transportation, how long it will take you to get there, how much money you will need, etc.
You need to make a plan to get you to California. Having a 1-liner wellness goal is similar to saying, “I’m going to California.” Without thinking about the logistics of how you’re going to get there, you will find yourself right where you started.
With that perspective, if you want to learn more about how to create strategies for setting wellness goals in 2022, this article’s purpose is to serve you.
HOW TO CREATE WELLNESS GOALS FOR 2022
Here are some examples of wellness goals
- Practice Mindful Eating
- Manage Stress
- Spend more time with loved ones
These goals are great and important for improving your wellness. However, they’re end results with no explanation of how you’re going to get there. They’re incomplete.
First, you need to determine what the goals mean for you. For example, exercise may look very different from one person to the next, same with stress management, or mindful eating. Close your eyes and imagine what it would look like once you’ve reached your goal. Then, think about what smaller actionable habits you can incorporate into your daily life that would help you achieve that goal.
How do you create a strategy that will help you set and achieve wellness goals?
Introducing the SMART goal strategy. SMART is an acronym for the purpose of setting goals and achieving them.
The reality is that nobody ever lost weight by simply saying, “I want to lose 20 lbs.” What do you have to do in order to achieve that goal? Probably something along the lines of eat better and work out regularly, but even that’s too vague. Chances are you will go to the gym once or twice, eat a salad 1 time and then give up because you had to think too hard about what you need to eat or when you should work out. If you want to start new habits, you need to make it easy for yourself to do it, and part of that ease comes with doing all the thinking upfront.
How are SMART goals different?
We did a little exercise to demonstrate what SMART goals look like using the examples from the intro of this article,
- Practice Mindful Eating
- I will include vegetables in all lunch and dinner meals for the week for 3 months
- I will have a green smoothie at least 3 mornings each week for 1 month
- I will limit bad snacks to 2 cups of chips, 10 candies, or 10 chocolates on Saturdays and Sundays only for 1 month
- Manage Stress
- Organize my work schedule into set time blocks every 2 weeks and review these tasks weekly for 3 months
- Read a good book for 30min every night before bed for 1 month
- Use the focus app on my phone to block out 1 hour every day Mon-Fri to get work done distraction-free before I check my emails or social media for 1 month
- Go to the gym at least 2 times a week for 45 minutes each session for 3 months
- 1st session of the week will be cardio only
- 2nd session of the week will be upper body and lower body strength exercises alternating weeks
- Spend more time with loved ones
- No work on Sundays for 1 month
- No emails on Sunday for 1 month
- Do not walk into the home office on Sunday for 1 month
Using the SMART goal strategy you can create smaller tangible goals with the purpose of achieving a bigger goal. It gives you the ability to track your progress. End goals are vague. But now you’ve done some additional thinking and planned what you need to do either daily or weekly to work toward achieving your main wellness goals.
Big accomplishments are accumulations of smaller victories put together over time.
For habits that might be harder to incorporate into your life, set a time limit for yourself to do it for 1 month. When 1 month is up, enjoy your success, then keep doing it for another month, then another, as soon as you know it, a year will have gone by and you’ve achieved your wellness goal for the year. It may become so much a part of your routine that it turns into a life long healthy habit without you even trying anymore.
Know the tricks…
Don’t set full-year goals for yourself. Instant gratification is much more satisfying than delayed gratification. Let yourself feel the victories sooner by setting the finish line closer. Once you’ve reached the finished line, you can set yourself up for another race. Keep doing this until you’ve won 20 races. The first run will be hard, but each time you do it, it will get easier. And it will feel great to win 20 short races rather winning 1 very long marathon.
Another consideration when making wellness goals is thinking about your skill level. Are you novice, intermediate, or expert level? If you’re doing something new, you may want to start with a very simple habit for a short period of time. It will be better to choose an easier habit and actually feel the victory of accomplishing it. This will encourage your spirits by focusing more on what you can do rather than what you can’t do.
You also need to think critically about your current state and ensure that you’re not setting goals that are expert level when you’re a novice. You will end up getting discouraged and give up on your goals. Don’t do this to yourself. If you can’t swim, use a life jacket. No one’s judging, do what you got to do. Give yourself a chance to make it.
For example, you might slip up and only went to the gym once this week. For the next week, you can make some adjustments to your schedule to make sure you fit it in 2 times a week as you had originally planned. Remember, it has nothing to do with your ability to achieve your goals, rather you need to accept the slip ups and just keep on going. When things come up or don’t go as planned, don’t give up, just make the right adjustments next time, and keep going.
Your SMART goals aren’t there to punish you. The purpose of having them is to guide your actions and ensure that your wellness goals stay at the forefront of your mind.
HOW TO USE SMART GOALS
What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym for the purpose of setting goals and achieving them.
SMART stands for..
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – [within a] Timeframe
Saying you want to “eat healthy” is too vague. What parts of your diet specifically do you want to work on first? Do you want to eat more vegetables? Cut red meats from your diet? Or perhaps you have high blood pressure and want to experiment with the DASH diet.
Setting a specific goal will help you know exactly what you are trying to achieve. Instead of saying, “I want to eat healthier”, you could phrase it as, “I will incorporate more vegetables into my diet by including them in all my meals for lunch and dinner.” This goal is specific, and you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
Using the example of, “I want to eat healthier,” versus “I will incorporate vegetables in all my meals for lunch and dinner,” the latter is measurable because as soon as you have a meal without vegetables, you can see that you’re straying away from your goal.
Another example is, “I want to exercise more,” versus “I will go to the gym 2 times a week for 45 min each time for 3 months straight,” the latter is measurable because every week you can evaluate whether or not you did what you said you were going to do. Also, at the end of the 3 months you can evaluate if you stuck with it or not. And if not, why? Perhaps the goals you set were not achievable? Not realistic?
Your goals need to be achievable. You have to think critically about your current state and where you want to go.
For example, if you currently have a 9-5 job Monday to Friday, kids and an older parent at home you’re caring for – going to the gym 5 days a week for 2 hours a day might not be the most achievable goal for you.
Though it may be possible, you’re stretching yourself very thin and will have to sacrifice other important things in your life to make it work which will not be sustainable and therefore unachievable. The ugly truth is, sometimes we need to accept that there’s not enough time in a day and that there’s only one of you.
You also need to think about your skill level and whether you’re a novice, intermediate, or expert.
If your goal is to exercise more but you’re a busy person who never had a work out regimen before, you can start with a small goal of taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work everyday. You could do at-home work outs while watching your kids at home. Take a half hour power walk with your partner in the evening. Do some lunges while walking in the hallway. Get creative, the world is your oyster.
Be aware that it may take a couple level-ups to get to the desired end result. It will take time, hard work and dedication but Rome wasn’t built in one day, just remember that.
The point is, you need to ensure that your goals are achievable within the context of your life. “Exercise” looks different for everyone and you need to find something that challenges you but is not impossible to achieve given the context of your life and your skill level.
Just because the fitness guru is going to the gym 7 days a week pumping 200lbs weights and looking like the hulk or barbie, doesn’t mean you need to do that.
As mentioned above, you need to make sure your goals are achievable within the context of your life and your capabilities. SMART goals also require an element of self-reflection. You need to be realistic with yourself.
The main idea here is you can’t just go from 0 to 100. If you want to eat healthy but you currently mostly eat already-made foods, it’s an unrealistic goal to eat everything organic, grow your own herbs, and cook every meal from scratch. Be realistic, one day you will get there but if you’re currently at level 0 focus on getting to level 1 instead of trying to get to level 100. When you’re in an elevator, you need to go through all the levels to get to the top. You can’t just teleport from ground level to the roof. Teleporting is unrealistic (for now anyway), therefore don’t set a goal that requires you to teleport.
Another consideration when framing your goal strategies is not make assumptions for other people. For example, if you plan to go to the gym 5 days a week, you can’t just assume that your spouse or partner can watch the kids while you’re at the gym all the time. If other people are involved as part of your SMART goals strategies, make sure you have a conversation with them. Assuming and setting expectations for other people can cause barriers to you achieving your goals, and are therefore unrealistic.
5. TIME FRAME
Timeframe is an important element of the SMART goal strategy, especially for wellness goals.
Living well is a constant uphill climb, it’s hard. Practicing these wellness habits consistently is hard. If it were easy, there would be no reason for writing this article in the first place.
Setting a goal with no timeline is like climbing a mountain without ever reaching the top. That’s pretty discouraging. That’s why when you’re setting your wellness goals, make sure to set a timeline for yourself. Short timelines like 1-3 months work best. That way you can feel the victory once you achieve it and celebrate your win! This will give you the confidence and courage to gain more good habits and get closer to your bigger wellness goal.
For finance goals, saying “I want to save up $5000 in 5 months by putting $250 a week into my savings account” is much more effective than saying “I want to save up $5000.”
For wellness goals, it’s better to create shorter time frames because wellness goals are based on actionable habits that you do everyday. Every week, putting $250 into your saving account will feel like a win.
Timeframes for your wellness goals should be daily, weekly, or monthly depending on what it is. For example, “I want to read 1 book every month for 1 year,” versus “I want to read 12 books in 1 year.” These 2 goals are the same, but you can imagine the latter will be a bit harder to adhere to because the time frame is too spread out. When you shorten the time frame, you can check in on your habits more often and make adjustments sooner than later. People give up when they’ve strayed far from the path.
Don’t be hard on yourself ..
- Just be honest
- Check-in regularly
- Make the needed adjustments
- Get back on track
- Continue on
Checking in on yourself regularly will push you to achieve the goal by keeping it at the forefront of your mind.
You will find that you will reach for your Kindle instead of your phone when you have some downtime. You will eat a salad with your burger instead of fries. You will focus on your work instead of scrolling through Instagram. It’s not going to be perfect 100% of the time, but the more often you check-in on your habits the better you will get at sticking to them.
SETTING YOUR WELLNESS GOALS
Which domains of wellness would you like to work on this year?
Within a domain, what is your end goal?
- Exercise more
- Make more time for friends
- Save X amount of money
- Read more books
- Eat healthier
Now that you’ve defined your end goal, how will you achieve this goal?
Things to keep in mind are
- Is it specific? – Do I know exactly which actionable habits I need to practice to help me work towards my wellness goal?
- Is it measurable? – Am I able to track my progress? Is there a way to evaluate my progress?
- Are my goals achievable? – Given the context of my life, time constraints, and personal capabilities, can these goals be achieved?
- Are my goals realistic? – Do my goals seem outrageous or impossible? You can discuss your goals with friends or family.
- What are the timeframes of my goals? Will the habits be practiced daily, weekly, monthly? How long will I consistently practice these goals for? 1 month? 3 months?
CONGRATS! THE HARDEST PART IS ALMOST DONE
Setting goals and creating a strategy can be daunting but once you put in the work upfront, the hardest part is done. Now all you got to do is follow the plan.
You’ve done the initial leg work and now it will be much easier to achieve your wellness goals because you know exactly what you’re doing and for how long.
Start small, and progress overtime. Don’t get discouraged and make adjustments as needed. Enjoy the experience of doing small habits everyday and don’t focus too much on the end result. More times than not, when you get to the end, you will already want to challenge the next wellness goal so enjoy the process and celebrate the small victories.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
– Lao Tzu
It’s the small habits that we repeatedly do everyday that accumulate into something great. Consistency is key. As always, embrace simplicity, take time for yourself, and create beautiful moments.
Read: What is Wellness?