DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Every year I make one or more New Year's resolutions that I have every intention of starting on Jan. 1. But I find myself losing momentum quickly into the new year when the holiday merriment starts to fade. Do you have tips for achieving resolutions and goals?
ANSWER: It is the time of year again when people make New Year's resolutions, many of which are health related. Losing weight, eating healthier, exercising and quitting smoking are popular choices. Losing weight often leads the list, but it also is the most difficult to accomplish.
New Year's resolutions are easy to make, but not so easy to achieve. To make the resolution into an actual solution, you need to spend time preparing and planning. There is no magic button for keeping a resolution.
The first step toward success is developing a structured health plan. Your health plan should include where you're headed and why you want to get there. Be realistic about what challenges you may face along the way and define how you plan to work through the challenges.
The second step is to visualize your goals. Think about a what a healthy future might look like to you. Convert those thoughts into a short, clear statement: your health vision.
While there are many ways to write a health vision, one popular format is: "I want to _(blank)_, so I __(blank)__." Examples may be: "I want to lose weight, so I have more energy to enjoy life." Or, "I want to have better balance between my work and personal life, so I have more quality time for myself and for my family."
After you create a health vision, the third step is to set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that is all about achieving identified goals to produce a feeling of accomplishment and much-needed motivation to fuel your health journey.
• Specific — What am I going to do?You need to have a specific plan in place to start. Take the time to design and research.
• Measurable — How will I track my progress?You may say, "I would like to lose some weight." But it would be better if you said, "I want to lose 50 pounds in four months."