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Road To Health | Goal Setting For the New Year

By: Ann Marie Coppen

Anne Marie Coppen

PhD, FNP, Nurse Practitioner

For a personal response to your health question, Ask Ann Marie at askannmarie@lindora.com. Selected questions will be featured in future columns.



healthyGoal setting is important to many parts of our lives. Being a good employee, having a successful marriage, being the best parent, and especially when making our health and well-being a priority. When trying to make lasting lifestyle changes, there are some basic reasons that our goals are not sustainable. First, we do not set specific goals. Without a map to our end destination, it is no wonder we get lost along the way. Also, we often view the changes we are making as a temporary action. It is essential a commitment is made from the beginning that your actions will become a permanent way of life. A vital mistake many make is forgetting to pay attention to the journey and to the valuable lessons to be learned in the process.

Unfortunately, we can also become judgmental and self-defeating. If we take time to self-reflect on how we may have been part of the problem in the past, we can make slight changes to our actions. Being aware of those changes and adjusting along the way may make all the difference to the outcome. Having the realization that we are human and bound to make mistakes along the way, and making a concerted effort to not be so hard on ourselves, will help in the end result. Focusing on the small positive changes along the journey will encourage you to continue towards more positive change.

Many of us are at a loss of how to start. It is important to begin with your motivation for change. Keeping focus on that motivation will keep you committed to the process. For example, with better health you may realize that you have more quality time and activity with your family. Here are five strategies that may be helpful in creating lasting change:

1.  Get Real

The first step is to be clear about the goals you want to and how you can achieve them. Learn to set SMART goals!

 Specific: You should write down your goals, and they should be well detailed and defined.

Measureable and Meaningful: Know the goal is obtainable and know when it is achieved.

Achievable: Ask yourself, “Is this something I can achieve?”

Realistic: Again, ask yourself, “Is this within my ability?”

Time Based: Be sure to have enough time to achieve the goal.

A SMART example: I will walk for 30 minutes on three different days in the next seven days.

2. Get Committed

Are you interested in being healthy or are you committed to being healthy? Making a commitment to incorporate healthy behaviors takes energy and dedication. Which of these statements sounds like what you might say or think?

  • I’ll try to walk twice a week.
  • I’m committed to walking twice this week.

It is easier to shrug off the first statement. You may be interested, but not committed. The second statement shows commitment, and you are more likely to follow through.

3.  Get Assertive

In order to meet the commitment to yourself, you will need to get assertive and confident about your time and your goals. You may feel a little uncomfortable at first. With practice and time, you will see the benefits of being assertive. Make it a priority to take care of yourself and stay strong to your personal commitments of healthy eating, relaxation, and exercise.

4.  Reward Yourself

Celebrate your successes, even if you think they are small! Positive reinforcement is very important for behavior change to occur. Your ability to provide yourself with positive feedback will assist in meeting your commitments and achieving your goals. Create a daily “to do” list. As you accomplish each task, check it off your list and celebrate your successes in ways that are meaningful for you. Examples of reward may be a day of golf, taking time to read a book, or buying a new shirt or gadget you have been eyeballing. The reward does not have to be much.

5. Seek Support healthy support

Support is one of the key predictors of success for lifestyle change.

  • Buddy up with friends and/or family members to work on your goals and provide accountability.
  • Keep your support network active even after you have achieved your goals.
  • The positive connections from family, friends, and faith will contribute to your continued good health.

Dr. Marshall Stamper, Founder of Lindora Clinic said, “The most important words you ever hear are the ones you tell yourself”.

Get Going

There are some key steps to beginning this process today:

  1. Create your personal healthy vision – seeing it is part of believing.
  2. Speak positively to yourself – affirm you are deserving of your goal.
  3. Begin every day with a commitment to the goals you have envisioned.

In the beginning, it may seem like it takes too much time and effort to make these lasting healthy changes. With commitment and time, they will become second nature. Patience, persistence, and support are equally important. Don’t forget that a belief in yourself is paramount to success!

So hang in there. Soon it will be the way you live your life!

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