How to set health intentions for the new year

Many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their health and wellbeing.  Whether it’s to lose weight, eat better or exercise more; these intentions can be a great way to improve your life. But how can you set achievable goals for your health in 2022? Here are some simple steps you can take now to help ensure your success by the end of the year.

1) Make a list of all the aspects of your life that affect your health

Whether it’s nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress levels or relationships with others – assessing all of the factors that currently affect you the most will help you identify the best ways to improve your health and wellbeing.

For example, the areas on a wellbeing wheel:

Photo courtesy of beloit.edu.

Try to pinpoint the areas that need improvement and what changes can be made. For example, if you’re already exercising but not getting enough sleep at night then that could be an area for improvement.

2) Choose one or two items on your list to focus on

Once you’ve created your list, choose two or three of the most important factors that you want to focus on in your life. Pick ones where you feel there is room for improvement and where making progress will be manageable. Don’t try and change too many aspects of your life at once – it will only cause frustration, stress and / or failure instead of motivation for improvement.

It’s important to choose intentions that are realistic and determine the associated habits to break and create. Over time, your new habits will become second nature and you’ll be able to add more goals in the future.

Remember, this process is about establishing healthy routines for life – not just gaining short term results. Therefore, make sure you choose intentions that are attainable and that will make a long-lasting impact on your life.

3) Set specific goals for these areas and make them measurable

Now that you’ve chosen your areas of focus and developed a plan for making changes, it’s time to set some goals. Make sure they’re specific and measurable so that there is no grey area in terms of whether or not you’ve achieved them. You could use the SMART approach with goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example – instead of saying ‘I want to exercise more’ say ‘I will do 20 minutes of strength training at the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays’. It’s a good idea to set exact dates to make your desired changes easy to follow. It will also make it easier to track your success.

4) Track your progress

Once you’ve set your desired changes it’s important to track them and mark your progress. This will not only help motivate you but if something does get in the way of achieving a goal then it can be recognised and dealt with easily.

There are many apps available that make tracking specific habits easy. Some of the most popular include Fitbit, MyFitnessPal and Nike training club. You can even track your goals with a pen and paper if that works better for you. For instance, you can write tick lists and calendars to help you visualise your progress. This will create momentum and motivation for continued success.

5) Reward your success

You can further support your goals by setting yourself rewards for when you reach certain goals or milestones. For example, if you’ve set a goal to go to the gym three times a week – reward yourself with an evening out after each month that you’ve consistently met this target.

Remember, you’re working towards becoming the healthiest version of yourself – not just gaining short term results. Celebrating your wins along the way will help to keep things in perspective and rub off positively on all aspects of your life. Whether it’s an afternoon at the spa or simply enjoying dinner with friends without having to worry about calorie counting, remember that this process should be fun and stress free.