With a new year upon us, you’ve probably seen a lot of people looking back on the past 365 days and discussing what they want to do differently. New Year’s resolutions are incredibly common, but they are rarely followed through by the end of the year. Much of the time, this happens because the goals are too big without clear steps along the way. Here are some actions to take toward your goals for the new year that will (hopefully) make them stick.
Monthly Goals are Better Than New Year Goals
According to Forbes, having specific monthly goals is actually more doable than two to three larger goals for the entire year. This makes sense, as smaller, more short-term goals can be less overwhelming and more targeted to your goals. Forbes was mostly referring to professional goals, but it can be applied to health-related ones, too.
With the above in mind, here are some goals for the new year that are achievable and conducive to life improvements.
1. Try One New Food Each Week
“Eat healthier” is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, but most people struggle to fulfill that goal long-term. It’s best to start small and make changes that you can continue throughout the year. If you’re new to eating healthy foods regularly (or want to get familiar with more healthy fare), trying something new each week is a helpful practice.
Each week, choose a new vegetable, fruit, or other whole food to try. Find a recipe online that sounds good and uses this food.
2. Try One New Exercise Move Each Week
New to exercise or bored with the same old routine? Try out a new move each week. Watch online videos or work with a personal trainer to make sure you have the right form. Ideas include:
- Squats (or squat jumps)
- Overhead presses
- Kettlebell swings
3. Replace an Alcoholic Drink With a Healthier One
Many of us indulge in festive drinks during the holidays, leading up to after the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve. Alcohol can affect your weight, mood, immune system, and sleep cycles.
If you want to cut down this year (or cut it out completely), choose a healthier replacement drink. That could be sparkling water, tea, smoothies, or any other health-promoting drink option.
4. Join a Club Related to a New Hobby
Hobbies are good for us because they provide a creative outlet away from the day-to-day grind. You can have every intention of starting a new hobby, but it’s hard to take action if you don’t know where to start. Joining a local club or Meetup group (or online group, if those aren’t available) will connect you with others who share your interest and provide the accountability to keep going.
5. Choose Two Ways to Add More Veggies to Your Meals
Eating more veggies is a common health-related goal for the new year. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. Pick two ways you will add vegetables to your meals, such as sautéing frozen veggies into a stir-fry dish or serving your regular meals on a bed of spinach.
6. Plan a Vacation
Research has shown that women who go on vacation at least two times a year have a lower heart attack risk. Taking breaks is good for us—and even thinking about vacations can boost happiness levels. Start thinking about small (or big) getaways you can do this year, then plan them.
7. Schedule Your Annual Doctor Appointments All At Once
You know you need to see your doctor, dentist, optometrist, etc. every year, but setting the appointment can feel heavy when you have a lot else going on. Choose one day and schedule all the yearly exams you need. Add them to your calendar, then don’t worry about them until the day arrives.
8. Take the Stairs, Walk Around the Block, or Do Squats
Finding small ways to be more active is easier than committing to an hour at the gym each day. Find moments during your lunch break, before work, or in the evening to move your body for at least 5-10 minutes at a time. It adds up!
9. Buy Workout Clothes You Like
Treat yourself to some workout clothes you feel good in. This can help encourage you to hit the gym or get out and move more.
10. Make a Playlist
Music is spirit-boosting—whether you’re exercising, getting some work done, or driving. Create a quick playlist of songs that make you happy. Play it when you need some encouragement.
11. Notice Your Breath for One Minute
You’ve no doubt heard about the benefits of meditation. If you want to be more mindful and reduce stress and anxiety this year, start small by breathing deeply for 60 seconds. Set a timer on your phone or use a meditation app to calm and focus your mind for at least a minute.
12. Actually Take That Lunch Break
Some of us work right through our lunch breaks, which can take a toll over time. If one of your goals for the new year has to do with more peace and less work, this is a great place to start. Use your lunchtime to actually eat and do other relaxing things you enjoy, such as reading a book or going for a little walk.
The Bottom Line
Use these as inspiration when thinking about your goals for the new year. Remember, healthy habits are about actions you can realistically take over the long-term—for your lifetime health and wellness.