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By Kelly, Contributing Writer
What is it about a brand new year that makes us feel compelled to make resolutions for change? Perhaps it’s because the start of a new year brings hope. It’s like we’ve been given a clean slate – an opportunity for a fresh start to make healthy changes to improve our lives and our family’s.
Of course, we all know resolutions are much easier to make than they are to keep, which is why by the end of January many of us find ourselves falling off the resolution bandwagon and settling back into our unhealthy old habits.
That’s because most of us stack the odds against ourselves right from the start. We get caught up in the “Just Do It” mindset, which sounds great in theory, but it’s important to realize that willpower and determination alone cannot compensate for resolutions that are too vague or unrealistic, and lack measurable objectives for attaining them.
But this year truly can be different – you can successfully achieve your goals! The key to making healthy living resolutions that you can actually keep is being sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.
How to Make S.M.A.R.T. Resolutions You Can Keep
S = Set Specific Goals
The more specific your resolutions, the far greater success you’ll have in achieving them. So instead of making vague resolutions, set specific goals that are as straightforward as possible.
Here are a few examples of moving from vague to specific …
Vague Resolution Specific Goal
1. Lose Weight...............................Lose 10 Pounds
2. Eat Healthier.............................Cut Out Fast Food
3. Read God’s Word More.........Participate in a Daily Bible Reading Program
4. Exercise More...........................Exercise 30 Minutes Three Times a Week
Getting started …
1. List out your specific healthy living goals. Talk to your spouse and pray about them together. Ask the Lord for His guidance as you seek to make healthy changes.
2. Prioritize – put your goals in order of priority.
3. Focus – select one of your top priority goals to get started on first. Taking time to prioritize, and make one healthy change at a time, will help you achieve far greater success and avoid the pitfall of becoming overwhelmed and giving up.
M = Make a Measurable Action Plan
Once you’ve set specific goals, it’s important to write down the actual steps you can take to achieve them. The specific steps for achieving your goals are called objectives. Think of them as an action plan that will help you to measure your progress and keep you moving forward in achieving your goals.
Getting started …
As an example, let’s take goal #2 from above and create three measurable objectives (an action plan) for meeting that goal.
1. Goal: Cut Out Fast Food
2. Measurable Objectives:
• Make a Weekly Meal Plan (to eliminate the need for eating out)
• Schedule a Prep Day (to prep for meals to make it easier during the week)
• Keep 1-2 quick emergency meal options on hand (i.e. pasta and sauce, breakfast for dinner, etc.)
A = Seek Accountability
Making forward progress in meeting your healthy living goals is so much easier when you have a network of support and encouragement. Seek out a trusted friend, family member, and/or group of individuals that you can discuss your progress with. And remember, it’s important to look for individuals who will not only cheer you on, but will also be honest about giving you a firm push when you need it.
R = Be Realistic
When it comes to making healthy living resolutions, one of the biggest pitfalls is not being realistic when formulating your goals and action plans. So, don’t set the bar so high that you can’t reach it, and don’t try to change everything all at once. Becoming overwhelmed will only lead to discouragement, and can ultimately result in failure to meet your goals. Instead, take the time to prioritize. Then, focus on making one healthy change at a time. This will help you in maintaining successful progress, and help you (and your family) to not become overwhelmed.
T = Commit to Tenacity
Anything worth accomplishing takes persistence, perseverance and determination. Tenacity is used to describe someone who just won't quit – who keeps trying until they reach their goal. Setbacks are normal, so don’t allow them to discourage you! Instead keep moving forward. Many healthy living resolutions require overcoming set-in-stone patterns of behavior, which do take time to break. So don’t give up when you mess up. Instead, refocus on your goals and keep taking small steps forward to achieve them. Remember, it’s slow, steady progress that leads to positive changes that last a lifetime.
Need a Little Help with Your Healthy Living Resolutions?
If one of your goals for 2014 is to adopt a real food lifestyle (or keep making forward progress), my dear friend Diana at My Humble Kitchen recently launched a FREE 25 Day Grace Filled Journey to Real Food, where each day, participants will receive an email covering the basics of how to switch from a processed, standard American diet, to a traditional real food lifestyle.
I’m honored to partner with her by providing free weekly whole food meal plans, as well as some helpful healthy living tips and strategies as part of her amazing series. And you can gain access to all these free resources and support, simply by signing up for Diana’s newsletter.
I also invite you to join me at The Nourishing Home as I'll be chiming-in with additional tips and resources throughout the month, as I journey with Diana and our team of participants in the 25 Day Grace Filled Journey to Real Food. So be sure to pop on over for some inspiration and encouragement!
And remember, it’s not impossible to achieve your healthy living resolutions. By getting S.M.A.R.T. about pursuing your goals, you’ll be far more successful in making healthy resolutions you can keep!