If the prospect of a new year makes you want to have a fresh start, you’re not alone. There’s something about a new year that inspires people to make personal goals to better themselves.
A fresh start doesn’t need to be a major makeover. In fact, in many ways it’s better if it’s not. Changing habits and trying to incorporate new ones takes time. Try focusing on one or two changes at a time, since small steps do add up.
Making SMART Goals
We all have good intentions at the beginning of the year, but the reality is that the overwhelmingmajority of New Year’s resolutions fail over time. One of the main reasons behind this is that people tend to set lofty goals without much thought or backing behind what it will take to get there. For example, a common goal people set is to be healthier, but a goal like that is not well-defined. What does that look like? How will you do it? When will you know if your goal has been reached?
A better approach is to set SMART goals. SMART goals are:
- Specific – Focus on something very specific, like having at least one vegetable at dinner.
- Measurable – If you can put a number to your goal, that makes it easier to know when you’ve arrived.
- Attainable – Lofty goals can make you feel discouraged. Make it something you can reasonably attain.
- Realistic – Ask yourself if this is something you can really do. For example, if you’ve never run a mile, maybe now isn’t the time to aim for a half-marathon. Keep your goals within reason, and you can always build from there.
- Trackable – Being able to track your progress – and celebrate successes along the way – is one way to keep the momentum going. Otherwise, you might just want to give up.
Five Health-Focused Goals for the New Year
If you need some inspiration, consider one or more of these habits for overall health to incorporate into your life this new year. Build your own SMART goals around the one or few that most appeal to you.
- Be more active. There are always ways we can add a bit more activity into our lives, even if mobility is a challenge. Maybe you can commit to 1-3 days per week of doing some stretches, or you try one new activity. It’s even better if you can team up with a buddy for accountability as well as camaraderie!
- Get more sleep. Prioritizing sleep is so important, as it helps your body recover from the day before and prepares you for the day ahead. Maybe you can hang some light-blocking shades over your bedroom windows or commit to turning off all electronics two hours before bedtime. Consider beginning winding down for the evening with a good book or a calming soak in the tub.
- Eat more protein. Most older adults could manage to get more protein in their diets. Find some new-to-you, protein-rich foods to incorporate into your diet, or look up recipes for tasty high-protein drinks to make for a small meal or between-meal snack.
- Be more social. Older adults are at a greater risk of feeling the effects of social isolation, which can lead to depression. It may seem hard at first to venture out of your comfort zone, but start small by making arrangements to meet with friends and family, either in person or with scheduled phone calls. If you’re yearning to make new friends, join a club or take classes in something that interests you. You’ll find others who share your interests, too.
- Reduce stress. Stress affects a whopping 44% of older adults according to recent data. We can’t always prevent stressors in our life, but how we respond to them can help keep us feeling balanced. Lessen your stress load by doing activities you enjoy or indulging in some self-care.