Do you have a new year’s resolution this year? What happened with your new year’s resolution(s) last year? If you made a resolution and then failed to follow through, didn’t accomplish what you set out to do, or didn’t sustain the accomplishment, it’s time to restructure your plan.
This year, make sustainable change a reality! Take some time to set a vision for your future, and then set realistic goals that will move your forward towards your vision. Attempting behavior change without setting a vision or goals is like setting out on a journey without knowing why, or where, you’re going. Without a vision, there is no motivation to persist through challenging times, and without goals, there is no plan to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.
Using a road trip analogy, the vision is your big, exciting final destination: the whole purpose of taking the trip. So, how do you set a vision? The quick answer is to DREAM BIG. Be bold! Think of who you want to be and where you want to be in life. Don’t let your inner critic hold you back. Tie your vision in with your values. What is most important to you, and how do you see those things drawing you to be an improved version of yourself? You can write down a paragraph to describe your vision, or you can use photos or videos to depict your best self/life.
A well-formulated vision is what pulls you through when you’re about to give up. It drives you to work hard to accomplish your goals. It opens you up to new possibilities for your future so past outcomes truly become a thing of the past. Keep your vision handy so you can turn to it when you’re feeling weak or want to give up. Use it to show yourself compassion when things didn’t go as planned and empower you to push through adversity, with your eyes on the prize.
“I am confident at work and proud of my career. I am physically capable of playing with my grandchildren and feel energized after I spend time with them. I feel positive and grounded, and I calmly respond to whatever stressors come my way. I am financially stable and put money into savings each week. I am excited about what each day will bring when I wake up, and I see myself as a healthy role model for those around me.”
A vision can cover multiple areas of your life, as the one above does, or a person’s vision could simply cover one area, such as financial stability or state of physical health.
Once you have a vision, it’s time to map out how to get there. Sometimes people jump straight into short-term (1-2 weeks) goal setting from here, and that can be self-defeating and leaves a directional void. Before diving right into the changes you want to make right now, think of where you want to be in 2-4 months.
Medium-term goals take you a little closer to reaching your vision. They should be more than you can accomplish next week, but also realistic and measurable, unlike the vision. The medium-term goals are like the tourist attractions on a long road trip. They come less frequently and are a bigger deal than the rest-stops, but they’re also right on the way to your big destination.
Pick 1-3 areas of focus from the vision and break the journey down into a one-sentence goal for each. For example: Three months from now, I will be eating out less than twice per week, I will be active for at least 45 minutes on Sundays-Fridays, and I will spend 10 minutes meditating every day.
Next, you can set short-term goals, which are like the rest stops on that road trip. What is one step you can take RIGHT NOW to head in the direction of the medium-term goals? These goals MUST be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-oriented. Using the 3-month goals above, this week, I might set goals of: 1) Starting tonight, I will set a timer to remind myself to meditate for 1 minute at 9pm before bed on my nights off, 2) I will prepare dinner at home on Monday and Thursday nights this week.
NOW HIT THE ROAD!
You now have your plan for success! Remember, the vision and goals can (and should) be fluid. Your vision will change as your circumstances change. Once you accomplish certain pieces of the vision, you may want to build on them or work to improve other areas of your life. Revisit the vision and medium-term goals regularly to ensure they still resonate with you and are still a powerful driving force. If not, then change them!
Just like the old saying goes: Fail to plan, plan to fail. Take the time this year to plan for success, then check in on your progress along the way, and you won’t go wrong. Review your vision regularly (daily if possible!) and treat it like an affirmation of your confidence and possibilities. When you hit road blocks, review your vision to help you navigate to set new goals or take a different route. Behavior change takes work. There is no magic pill, but the process of planning, reviewing progress, and visualizing success is the closest thing to a sure-fire formula.
If you need help with behavior change, “visioning," and goal-setting, the Tahoe Forest Center for Health has health coaches, registered dietitian nutritionists, personal trainers, and more who can guide you on your personal path to change! Contact 530-587-3769 today to get set up with someone who can help.
Components of a vision:
- Present-tense statements
- Your BEST self and life
- Includes things that are most important to you
Components of a medium-term (2-4 months) goal:
- Can be achieved in designated period of time, but not easily achieved in under 3 weeks
- Will lead to reaching vision
Components of a short-term goal (1-2 weeks):
Article provided by Dana Dose, RD, LD, CDE, a member of the Wellness Neighborhood, Rethink Healthy Team.