Another end of year is upon us and we turn our minds to the wonderful things that 2019 has in store for us. It’s the time when we ponder what needs to change in our lives, when we set New Year’s resolutions while solemnly promising ourselves, as usual, to keep them this time. We set our sights on good health, wealth and happiness but by the end of January most of our good intentions have already fallen by the wayside. So just how do we make resolutions that we will keep? The answer is to think SMART! Now I am not saying you are not intelligent, so, before you come for me, read on. Setting SMART goals is a good way to set realistic, achievable goals that we can keep:
Specific – Make it clear, to help you keep your focus.
Measurable – Set goals that you can track and that help keep you motivated.
Achievable – Sometimes these can be set to push beyond your current abilities but not so ambitious that they are hard to achieve.
Relevant – Smaller goals that will help you achieve the final goal.
Timed – The long-term target date for reaching your final goal.
If you have decided that 2019 is the year you’ll get fit and pay more attention to your health, be more specific. Getting fit is vague and it is harder to achieve goals that can’t be measured and monitored. So instead, decide what you want to achieve. Do you want to change to a healthier diet? Do you want to be able to climb the stairs without getting out of breath? Or do you want to be able to climb the Pitons, or run a marathon? Once you have decided what you want, you need to set yourself small goals to be able to achieve that one big goal. Break it down into bite-size pieces.
If your goal is to lose weight, first decide: do you need to lose a certain amount of weight or do you want to fit into that favourite outfit you bought last summer? This is vital if you want to see results that keep you motivated and moving forward. If your goal is to lose weight to achieve the perfect BMI, then choose your exercise plan wisely. Remember that lifting weights will help you tone but can also increase your weight; muscles weigh more than fat. If your goal is to lose inches, throw away the scales and use a tape measure instead. If you want to lose weight, aim for about one to two pounds per week. More than that may be detrimental to health. The perfect combination to achieve this is a healthy diet, aerobic and weight training exercises. The best combination will depend upon your final goal.
Maybe you want to give up smoking. Smoking is an addiction and not a choice, no matter what you tell yourself, and giving it up is no easy task. Around the world there are helplines and apps to help you kick the habit. Scientists have even identified various methods, applicable to different situations. Some people just decide to stop while others need to gradually wean off. To make it easier there are patches and gums. Some people even look to counselling, hypnosis and acupuncture. The key is to keep busy and avoid triggers.
So you might decide to take up a new hobby or start to exercise, spend time with non-smoker friends or visit the cinema where smoking is not permitted. Remember to throw away your cigarettes and lighters.
Maybe after one hangover too many you’ll want to stop drinking. But hangovers aren’t the only reason to want to quit alcohol. Maybe you have a serious health condition, or you are on medication; you may even feel you have developed an unhealthy dependency. Whatever the reason, it may take a lot of patience and willpower. Some people find it easier to gradually cut down on their daily intake while others prefer to quit completely.
First, let us look at what is the safe daily/weekly alcohol consumption. Because of the supposed health benefits, it is always easy to find an excuse to drink. Be strong and, if you want to quit, well, just do it. Giving up alcohol, like smoking, is best done if you avoid places where you could be tempted to imbibe. Instead of having that glass of wine in front of the TV, replace it with a fresh, healthy fruit juice or a cup of tea. Instead of going to the bar after work to unwind after a long hectic day, head instead to the gym.
Remember to set yourself goals, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and make the goals realistic. Maybe your goal is just to be happier and enjoy life more. Start each day by giving thanks and finding things you are grateful for. In a world where we are surrounded by doom and gloom, this can seem a daunting task sometimes, but just waking up is a wonderful reason to smile and start the day on a positive note. If you look hard enough, you can always find reasons to be grateful! Whatever your resolutions for 2019, set SMART goals and stick with them for a happier, healthier New Year.