Congrats on making it to the new year! (Yes, we are late to the party with this post, hey we were still celebrating the real:) The continuing COVID-19 pandemic makes each year feel like a long accomplishment to get through. As you look ahead to this new year, you are likely setting goals and making New Year's resolutions. Perhaps you have small goals; perhaps you have big goals. Ambitious goals are great but can sometimes be daunting. Let’s shift perspectives.
Shrink your big goals by starting small. If you can create healthy, daily habits that contribute to achieving your overarching goals, those big-picture goals won’t seem so intimidating anymore. Learn to do this and remember our January monthly mantra: Small Choices = Big Impact.
1. Evaluate Your Progress
Knowing where you stand is the first step toward a goal. How far away from the goal are you? Is this a goal that you can reach in a day, or is it something you have to work toward? What skills or habits must you develop to reach this goal? As you meet milestones throughout the next few months, take the time every once in a while to evaluate and appreciate your progress. Any progress is good progress.
2. Build Up to the Goal
Most goals cannot be achieved overnight. Start small by establishing milestones or smaller goal benchmarks along the way. Let’s say your goal is to work out five times a week, but you currently work out only once a week. Because it will be hard to make a drastic adjustment, start small by working out twice this week, three times next week, and increase from there once you are comfortable with the progression. Rushing into a strict regimen too soon might prove to be difficult on your body and your schedule.
Similarly, if your goal is to eat healthier, don’t purge your pantry and change your entire diet overnight. Slowly eliminate unhealthy foods and replace them with healthy ones, one meal item at a time. Making slow transitions toward achieving your goals can be the best way to actually reach them.
3. Embrace Accountability
Hold yourself accountable! You can write your goals down and post them on your fridge or a bulletin board. This visual reminder will keep you focused on your goals. Tell your close friends or family members about your goals; they can check in on your progress to see how you’re coming along. These extra steps will give you the motivation to work toward where you want to be.
4. Create Daily Habits
Keeping your goal top of mind will help you work toward it. We mentioned this at the beginning, but if you can create healthy, daily habits that encourage progress toward your goals, you just might reach them. This could mean waking up earlier to make extra time in your day and even going to bed earlier to get enough sleep. Working toward healthy eating goals could mean snacking less or snacking better. Prioritize water over other drinks. Drinking plenty of water is a healthy habit that can give your body the energy to work on any goal.
5. Set Reasonable Expectations
Set big goals, but keep them reasonable. Don’t let your expectations get out of hand, or you may get discouraged. Overly ambitious goals can frustrate you, especially when some things are out of your control. Focus on what you can do and work toward that.
Small Choices = Big Impact, Starting Today
William Shakespeare said, “The choices we make dictate the lives we lead.” Making positive changes in your life today can help you in the future. Your small choices will offer lasting benefits. So, why procrastinate working toward your goals? Start small and strive for that big impact.
Happy New Year!