4 Steps to Achieving Your Goals In the Coming Year
By Stephanie Mandel, Integrative Nutritionist
For many of us, the end of the year is a time of introspection — an opportunity to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished in the last year, and what you’d like to focus on in the year to come. Particularly with everything that’s come to pass in the world in 2016, we could probably all benefit from a fresh start this January — and what that looks like for you depends on your unique needs and desires for growth and self-betterment. We’ll look at how to clarify your goals, then we’ll cover the step that many miss: making a realistic plan of action.
Here are my tips for achieving your goals in the new year:
- Get clear on what you want to do and why you want to do it.
Want to lose weight or start exercising? Why? What’s your ultimate goal? To feel sexier? Live longer? To feel more fit and comfortable in your own skin? General goals — “eat healthier,” “lose weight,” “exercise more,” “learn to meditate” — are important to identify, but the true motivation behind them — feeling more energetic and focused so you can kick more ass at work, feeling more confident as you walk down the street, learning to manage your stress for a longer, healthier and happier life — are the fuel that keeps you committed when you’re tempted to let yet another resolution fall by the wayside.
- Be specific with your goals, and write them down.
There is value in actually writing your goals down on paper: it brings your goals down to earth and helps you to set realistic targets and timelines.
Write out your goals from step 1, then describe them in as much detail as possible.
For example: “I want to lose weight.” Great! How much? When would you like to drop the weight by? Spring? Summer? The end of 2017?
Always include your “why” from step 1; Commit by saying “I will” instead of “I want to”:
“I want to will lose 20 pounds by summer so that I can move around more easily, feel more comfortable and confident in my body and be a role model for my friends and family.”
See how different that is from just thinking “I want to lose weight next year”?
Or maybe you want to start exercising — amazing! What kind of exercise do you enjoy so you can stick with it? How many minutes per day or hours per week can you realistically commit to working out?
“I will work out for 40 minutes, 4 days per week to feel more energized, more agile, and support my long-term mental and physical health.”
“I will meditate for 10 minutes every morning to keep me more grounded and focused throughout my day.”
Once you’ve written out your goals with specific details and your honest reasons for them, it’s time to consider how you’ll achieve them.
Let’s say you’ve written that you will lose 10 pounds by summer to feel more confident and be a role model for your family.
How might you go about that? Make a list of possible solutions. You might resolve to eat more organic, whole foods, consume less refined carbohydrates and sugar, eat more vegetables, and commit to a realistic exercise routine.
“I will work out for X minutes, X days per week so that I feel more mentally alert and physically capable.”
What kind of exercise do you like enough to actually do it regularly? Do you love to swim? Dance? Bike? Think about what will keep you engaged long-term.
“I will meditate for 10 minutes a day to better manage stress throughout the day.”
I also love this resource from the site Relaxlikeaboss.com – they offer a full guide to Spiritual Meditation
4.Make a step-by-step plan and consider enlisting expert support to help you put your goals into action.
This might be the most important step: break down your goal into an approachable action plan and identify where professional support could be useful.
If you’re going to start meditating, call the meditation center, or download the app, and set a reminder on your phone every morning to help you develop the habit. You could also book a few sessions with a private meditation coach to help you create a customized routine.
If you’re going to start working out, go online and identify which gym you’ll go to, sign up for classes or speak with their front desk about working with a trainer for a few sessions to get you started on a regimen that fits your needs, goals and budget.
Changing your diet and/or losing weight can seem more daunting because there are a number of factors involved — how to grocery shop, what to eat at restaurants, how to prepare meals for the week, not to mention identifying and addressing the underlying reason you may have gained weight or transitioned to a less healthy diet in the first place.
To get started on your own, keeping a food and symptom log for a week with an app like MyFitnessPal — tracking what you eat, how much, and how you feel before and after — can illuminate eating patterns and how certain foods affect you so you can make informed changes to your diet.
You might consider working with a nutritionist or health coach to help you identify what kind of meal plan is most appropriate for your unique metabolic needs and identify any potential digestive issues or food sensitivities that might be holding you back; they’ll also hold you accountable and keep you motivated.
I take all of my clients through this process, and we work together to create detailed, doable plans and identify and overcome obstacles. I also connect them with resources like clean meal delivery services, nutritional tests and the kinds of specialists mentioned above, to make the path toward health easier, more efficient and enjoyable.
I truly believe we all have what it takes to become who we want to be. The key is to very clearly and specifically identify what that looks like, how you’re willing and able to achieve it, create a step-by-step plan, and be open to asking for support to help you get there.
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha
Wishing you a happy, healthy and successful 2017.