A new year brings with it a host of resolutions, for many of us they include health-oriented goals. Whether it’s a new healthy-eating diet or a fitness drive, the best intentions can be difficult to keep long term. According to YouGov, the UK’s top three resolutions are: improve fitness, loose weight, and improve diet. Resolutions relating to diet and fitness top the survey every year and 27% of the population say they are making resolutions for 2020. Last year, of the 25% of people who made resolutions, only 24% of them kept them all, 47% kept some and 28% didn’t keep any. So, we’ve rounded up the best tips to help you keep on track, especially when at work.
Having a general goal such as ‘improve fitness’ or ‘improve diet’ is a good starting point, but to measure progress you need to be specific. A good way of setting goals is to use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) approach. Using this approach makes it more likely that you’ll succeed in your goal, it also allows you to track you progress which is a great way to build motivation.
Think in advance how to make it easy for yourself to incorporate your goals into your working day. If you’re trying to hit a certain number of steps, could you get off public transport a stop early, or take the stairs instead of the lift? If you’re planning on hitting the gym before work, get your gym bag ready the night before so it’s easier to get going in the morning. For healthy eating goals, make sure you have a supply of healthy snacks in your desk so you’re less tempted by treats.
Motivation can be difficult to maintain, especially when you get busy with a work project or are feeling below par. There is a wealth of tips and tricks to help with motivation depending on your personality and goals. Whether it’s visual cues (e.g. a motivating picture), rewards for making progress, or a form of accountability, find what works for you. According to Forbes, the best way to maintain motivation is to feel energized by taking care of yourself. Getting a good night’s sleep, eating well and getting enough exercise will make you feel good, and feeling good helps to keep you motivated; it’s a self-perpetuating cycle.
To help make your goal achievable (see Be Specific) you need to be consistent. Smaller regular steps are more achievable than larger less frequent ones. Ideally, you want to create new habits which support you in your goals, so new behaviours become automatic. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology revealed that it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit, the average falling at 66 days. The time it takes depends on the nature of the habit and the nature of the person, so bear in mind that change takes time.
Whilst goals can be very individual, some are more achievable when done as a team. If there are a few of you in the office hoping to get fit or loose weight, perhaps there’s a exercise class you can attend together. Team goals mean you can encourage and motivate each other, and it creates accountability if you’re tempted to cry off. If you’re completing your goals individually, try to find support from friends or family members. Let them know how you’re progressing and ask for encouragement when you need an extra bit of motivation.