New Year’s always inspires new goals for self-improvements or habits we’d like to change. Yet, even with the best intentions, very few of us make our resolutions a reality.
This can leave us feeling frustrated and discouraged, but the problem is usually not with us- instead, the problem is often the goal itself and how we approached it. At Church Health, our health coaches work with our patients and staff on creating “action plans,” which can help to make those New Year’s goals more achievable.
Action planning involves breaking down a long-term goal into small, specific, short term actions. Instead of trying to make a drastic lifestyle change overnight, pick one small thing to start with and answer these questions:
- What are you going to do?
- How much are you going to do?
- When are you going to do it?
- And how often are you going to do it?
Instead of just saying “I want to exercise more this year,” your action plan might say “For the next two weeks, I will walk for 15 minutes, after work, 3 times a week.” That’s a specific, action-oriented, measurable short-term goal. At the end of those two weeks, evaluate how it went, then write another action plan that builds upon the previous one.
Approaching goals in this way can help keep you moving toward your long-term goal. And remember, meaningful lifestyle change is about progress, not perfection.
This is Erica Perkins, for Church Health.