This article has been medically approved by Senior Pharmacist Melanie King, MPharm MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2063161
2021 is the year of making things happen, but where to start? If you want to lose weight, quit smoking, or just live a bit healthier, follow our guide below to set yourself up for success!
1. Make it matter
When setting your health goals, it’s important to think what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it.
Maybe you want to lose some weight so you can be more active with your children. Perhaps you want to quit smoking so you can run upstairs without having to take a break. Whatever your reason, make sure it will motivate you enough to get through the tough times.
2. Be Specific
To find a goal that matters to you, a vague goal can be so broad you don’t know where to start. For example, ‘lose weight’ is a vague goal. Find a specific goal that matters to you, like losing a stone in 2 months or fitting into a new swimming costume in time for your holiday.
Try setting a SMART Goal
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. When you set a SMART Goal, you have to think about the path you will need to take to achieve your goal. For example, a vague goal would be ‘lose weight’, whereas a SMART goal might be aiming to walk for 30 minutes, five times per week, for a period of four weeks. You’ve identified clear steps that you can take and have decided an end point where you can look back at how you’ve done.
3. Break your goal into steps
Going too hard, too fast can easily result in a burnout. Work towards your overall goal in small, manageable steps.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, don’t overhaul your entire diet and start exercising for 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week. Instead, start small. Replace a guilty pleasure, like ice cream, with something healthier you enjoy, like yogurt. Do some exercise 3 days a week, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or have a snack. There’s always tomorrow!
Similarly, if you want to stop smoking, don’t quit cold turkey. Consider cutting down the amount you smoke slowly. Perhaps you could skip a smoke break for a week, then drop another for a week, and so on. You might find it helpful to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy while you’re stopping smoking.
4. Reward your success
Pick milestones on the way to achieving your goal, and then reward yourself for reaching those milestones. You could try getting yourself a small reward for reaching your first milestone, and then larger rewards for subsequent milestones.
Say you smoke 20 cigarettes a day and you want to quit, which you’ve decided to do by slowly reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke a day. Some milestones you could choose are cutting down to 15 a day, then 10 a day, then 5 a day, then stopping smoking all together.
5. Ask for help
No matter how prepared you are, every journey will be met with hardships. Find others who share your goals so you can support each other through any struggles you might face.
See if a friend wants to help you, or you can join support groups or smoking cessation programmes.
Even if you can’t find someone to work towards your goals together, no worries! Your friends, family, and colleagues can be great cheerleaders to help you avoid slip ups. Perhaps you know someone who had recently quit smoking who can help you, or a friend who recently lost weight to go to the gym with.
6. Keep going
Setting goals and meeting them can be a long process. It can take a long time to change your habits, so you should be prepared to put in the time and effort that your goal needs. Even if you slip up, don’t give up totally – you can always pick yourself up and get back on the horse tomorrow. Try, try, and try again.