Spring Has Sprung. Why Not Revisit Some Of Those New Year's Resolutions?

Hamster on a wheel

(HealthCastle.com) How often have you set out to make a change for the better, only to find that you're back where you began? Then, only to start all over again - around and around you go, like the poor hamster on the wheel going nowhere. Studies show that most people give up on their New Year's Resolutions by about mid-February. As the saying goes, 'people don't plan to fail, but they fail to plan'. Now that we're well into spring, it's likely those who waited till the New Year to make change, have long ago lost steam. Spring is another common time to make new changes as people want to 'spring clean' their health habits.

Changing behaviour doesn't just happen willy-nilly

Without specific, measurable goals and time frames, efforts become vague and lack direction. Declaring 'I want to eat more healthfully' is no more effective than saying 'I want to save more money'. How much money? By what date? Is the amount you want to save a realistic goal? Enter the acronym SMART, a tool to help you with goal setting.

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time sensitive   

Let's take eating more whole grains as an example. A SMART goal would be something like:

"I will eat a whole grain cereal for breakfast, 3 times a week, staring on Thursday"

The goal states whole grain cereal (specific), for breakfast (specific), 3 times a week (measurable, attainable and realistic), starting on Thursday (time sensitive).

You might also say Thursday is attainable and realistic if the goal was written on a Tuesday and a whole grain cereal still had to be purchased. Both the attainable and realistic aspects of SMART goal setting are highly individualized. If a person never eats whole grain cereal, then 3 times per week might be a huge change. If the goal is too ambitious right out of the gate, then failure is almost always guaranteed.

Once this behaviour becomes a new habit (typically taking at least 21 days), then a new goal can be layered on top. As they say, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Steady and slow wins the race. Choose a least one new SMART goal in the next week or two, as soon as  you feel its something that you can do and take it one step at a time.

Photo courtesy: Miss Shari

HONcode accreditation seal.About HealthCastle.com

HealthCastle, founded in 1997, is the largest online nutrition community run by Registered Dietitians. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or dietitian. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.