My husband and I sat down a few days before Thanksgiving to catch up with each other after putting the kids to bed. We had flown from August to December and sat looking back at the busy season of school events, work meetings, birthday parties, seasonal allergies and illnesses, unexpected losses, and new routines. Our lives are full and busy, and we talked about the challenges of staying healthy and prioritizing wellness when the calendar seems already packed. Focusing on personal health and wellness can be particularly challenging when daylight hours are shorter, holiday food is doughy, sweet, and abundant, and the weather outside is frightful. As we sat and talked, we agreed to encourage each other through these Winter months to eat well, keep moving, and stick with our shared goal to be healthier at 40 than we were at 30.
Your calendar is probably just as tagged and Google-alerted as our work and family calendars are, but now is the time to block out an hour to think about how you will care for yourself in the next twelve months. Setting a goal should not be an arbitrary wish tossed into the wind. Whether you are getting started with an exercise routine for the first time, looking to transform your diet from processed foods to whole foods, or in need of a fresh start after falling off the wagon during the holidays, treat yourself to an intentional time of realistic goal setting for 2013.
Grab a friend. Consider meeting a friend for coffee before New Year’s Day to talk about your wellness plans. Having a partner or friend to share goals with is one of the best ways to insure you will stick with that goal. As you plan, keep the following tips in mind.
Keep it positive. Instead of focusing on the thing you are giving up or a habit you are trying to break, name the new patterns you want to embrace. I am working on a reboot of my healthy habits and want to back away from the flour and sugar. A positive spin on this goal is “Eat more fruits, veggies, and lean meats every day” rather than posting a big “No sugar!” sign on the fridge.
Quantify. How often will you work toward this goal? Set a time frame and numerical value to your goals: “I will exercise a minimum of three days per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.” “I will eat one raw meal per day.” “I will keep my plate half-full of leafy greens.” “I will drink two quarts of water each day.”
Be realistic with a twist. Set a goal that is true to who you are while also pushing yourself to the next level. I am not a great morning person and really do not want to talk to anyone before my cup of coffee at 7:15. As attractive and challenging as I find the idea of an early morning boot camp, it simply is not a good fit for my personality. Consider something new that works with your interests while also stretching you to do more than you previously thought possible.
Go public. Now is not the time to cherish these things in your heart. If you want to succeed in your goals, you must write it down and share it out loud. Are you a fan of social media? Harness the power of the tweet or status update to share what you are planning for yourself in 2013. Set up a Pinterest board to tag inspiration. Invite others to join you, and you will be surprised when you inspire someone else to be their best self in the year to come.
Be gentle with yourself. When you hit a snag and the plan isn’t going smoothly, do not give up. We know that life is not as seamless as our planning might suggest. You will get sick, your kids will get sick, work will become hectic, you’ll skip the Zumba class, and forbidden foods will pass your lips. Having a bad week does not mean you toss the goals altogether. Each morning is a chance to start over again with a fresh plate, tall glass of water, and a long workout with a friend. These goals are just the start, after all, to a lifetime of living well.
So what is your plan for 2013? Once you have decided, join us in the comments section to go public with your goals. You will inspire us all to live life to the fullest in the days to come.