5 Keys to Setting Health Goals and Achieving Them
I thought I’d never change and then discovered that, no matter how many times you’ve failed before, you can change your life over 40. Small wellbeing changes are sustainable and setting health goals helps us make changes stick.
For me just setting a goal of 10 minutes of meditation a day then actually doing it about five days a week has instigated huge positive change in my emotional wellbeing.
You could say I failed at my goal because I rarely meditate every day, but setting the goal helped me get within 70% of it and that’s good enough. The benefits have been noticed.
Health and wellbeing shouldn’t be about setting short or long term goals though, they should be part of our daily lives. Which is why I started the One Healthy Move series to keep us all on track.
Travel goals also need to be taken care of daily because, even though we can’t travel every day, we can keep the spirit of travel and adventure alive on a daily basis. There are new discoveries to be made everywhere if we only make time to look for them.
Goals are great for helping us achieve big things and keeping us on track with a daily routine but we have to be careful about what health goals we set.
It’s no good setting yourself a major health goal like completing a marathon or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and then letting everything slide once you’ve achieved your goal.
That’s a common mistake with weight loss when people work hard to get down to a certain weight then gain it all back. Health and wellbeing isn’t about achieving one goal then reverting to type. It’s about being healthy for life and setting up goals that help us maintain good health forever.
Neither should we set health goals that are too hard because we risk getting discouraged and giving up. In other words setting ourselves up for failure by trying to achieve too much too soon.
So how do you set health goals that are big enough to promote healthy ageing and small enough to feel manageable?
Keys to Setting Health Goals and Achieving Them
1. Set a grand longterm experience-based goal
Never pick a health goal that’s based on improving your appearance, focused on weight loss or about fitting into old clothes again. How you look won’t improve your sense of wellbeing but creating positive experiences will.
Achieving good health may take a long while if you’ve let things slide but picking a grand goal for the distant future will allow you time to achieve your goal.
If you want to run a marathon or hike to Machu Pichhu it will probably take a long time to get fit enough. You might be able to do it faster but then you probably won’t enjoy it and risk quitting.
Far better to set major goals for one, two or five years into the future. Even 10 years is okay if you have a reason for that, like waiting for your kids to leave home before you go trekking in Nepal for three months.
Get inspired by reading travel blogs, adventure books, survival books and bucket lists. Then choose an active adventure like a cycling tour, a long hike or a mountain climb as your grand longterm health goal. I’ve got a few of them!
2. Take baby steps
That longterm goal may be a long way away but you need to start taking baby steps to get there now. Seriously, if you don’t start now you’ll wake up in a year or two years and find that your longterm goal is still as hard as it is today.
Do you want to really want to climb Kilimanjaro? Or are you happy to watch travel shows about other people’s adventures? Hopefully not for the last question!
If you really do want to achieve that major health goal create a daily goal to set you on the right path. Here are a few examples for you to choose from or to inspire you to create your own:
- Start walking for fitness and walk for 45 minutes every day;
- Meditate for 10 minutes every day;
- Stretch for 10 minutes every day;
- Run 5km in 25 minutes;
- Limit treats to one per day.
- Only have one takeaway each week.
- Replace chocolate with homemade bliss balls;
- Eat a freshly made smoothie for breakfast every day.
By the way these have all been goals of mine. Chocolate is my greatest weakness but am pretty successful with most of these goals which I’ve built on over the years.
Improving my running speed is a huge goal for me right now but I’ve been slowly improving my fitness levels for years before attempting to run 5km in 25 minutes.
3. Have a routine to make time for your daily goal
I love to be spontaneous but I’ve learnt the hard way that creating a routine ensures success.
In order to make those daily goals happen you’ll need to set up a tight daily routine and work out a time when you’re going to make that exercise happen.
For me that’s the early morning because that way I can make sure I get my exercise in before I get side-tracked or worn out.
If you’re really not a morning person then plan another time but if that time keeps not working create an early morning habit. It’s worth it and in time you’ll look forward to getting up and that moment of selfcare.
In order to do that you’ll need to go to bed earlier so you get enough sleep.
Before you go to bed make sure you get out your clothes, water bottle and anything else you need for your exercise. You don’t want to have to think in the morning. Just get up and do your exercise every day, rain, hail or shine.
Have one day off a week if you wish but otherwise commit to your health goal every single day.
Commit to it for one month at first and then go from there.
4. Go easy on yourself
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Stuff happens. We go away, we get sick or work demands overrun us. You will have fails in your exercise plan, you will eat the wrong thing at times. That’s perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
Don’t let one failure, or even a few of them, sidetrack you from your daily goal. No one is perfect and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be perfect.
If you miss a day or two get back into your routine and daily goal with renewed energy as soon as possible. If you really can’t manage a 45 minute walk today then do 20 minutes instead.
Go easy on yourself and support yourself in achieving the health goal you set by forgiving yourself when you mess up.
5. Commit and Share Successes on Social Media
Facebook has its flaws but it’s great for commitment too. Avoid wasting time, getting sucked into dramas or comparing yourself to others but do use Facebook or social media as a motivator.
Sharing your daily health goal on Facebook can be a great way to commit to it. You can follow through by adding daily update of how many steps you took or sharing a photo of your smoothie.
The Internet can also be a great place to connect with like-minded people. Maybe one of your Facebook friends would like to join you on a walk?
Or find some website or blogs that inspire you to stick to your health goal. Health and wellbeing blogs I love include Always Well Within (the Living With Ease stress reduction course is great), Lifestyle Fifty and Sarah Wilson.
Subscribing for free weekly emails from me is another great way to go. That way you’ll never miss any post in the One Healthy Move series.
One Healthy Move Weekly Challenge
Set a longterm goal and a daily goal then share them with a friend or in the comments below. That way you’re really committing to it.
Join the #OneHealthyMove Revolution Now!
One Healthy Move is a new series to help you stay healthy in midlife and beyond so you’re ever ready for adventure.
1. Subscribe now by email so you don’t miss out on more in the One Healthy Move series. It’s free, you can opt out anytime and your details will be kept private and never sold. You have my word for it.
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3. Share your own updates or photos with the #OneHealthyMove hashtag so we can cheer you on and see what you’re doing today to create a fitter, happier, healthier you tomorrow.
What’s your longterm health goal and your daily health goal? Share and show your commitment by leaving a comment below.
Meditation is good. I found meditation with visualization helps more. If you want to lose weight, you can think and visualize it. If you want peace, you can meditate with the heart full of gratitude with a visualization of the happy peaceful relation with everybody around you.
Well, I had a couple of great mornings this week of going for a walk/jog up at the local park for 40 mins before getting the kids to school. I’ve always rebelled against routine- the kids thrive with it and we do have lots of routines but I love a bit of chaos in my own life. So I like to mix up exercises and tomes… had a fab walk along the beach at Manly this week. #onehealthymove highlight of the week.
Great general outline for achieving big goals … thanks for this post!