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10 Steps to Achieving Your Health Goals in 2014

It’s that time of year, when people all over the world start pondering their accomplishments during the past 12 months and creating goals for the year to come. When it comes to physical health, mental health and fitness goals, the steps for success are not just about the goals you set but also about your plan for achieving them.

In 2012 I wanted to make the switch from treadmill running to outdoor running, only to find that for me this transition was much more difficult than I had anticipated. Because I did not have a great plan, I pretty much gave up my plans. This year I tried it again, getting a little further than the year before. Next year I hope to improve on it and become a stronger outdoor runner.

When it comes to goal setting, it is important to consider the following:

  • Set Challenging Yet Realistic Goals. 1 of 10
    Set Challenging Goals

    A goal should be attainable without being easy. They should push you out of your comfort zone, but not so far that you can't even picture the finish line.

  • Be Specific. 2 of 10
    Be Specific

    It may not be sufficient to set a goal of losing weight or working out more. Instead, try to think more specifically. "Get healthier" is not a goal. Nor is "lose weight." How much weight do you want to lose? What kind of foods are you going to eat? What kind of fitness routine are you planning to tackle? Being more specific might help you remain motivated when you're in the final stretch.

  • Know Your Why. 3 of 10
    Know Your Why

    Once again, knowing why these goals matter to you can help you to stay on track. Do you want to be healthier for increased energy so you can play harder with your kids? Do you want to run a 5k or a 10k to prove to yourself that you can finish what you start, or show your children that it really is possible to accomplish your goals by working hard? Do you want to lose weight so you can get off a certain medication or lower your cholesterol levels? When you encounter an obstacle, remembering your why can be just what you need to help you to break through.

  • Have Short-Term Milestones. 4 of 10
    Have Short Term Milestones

    Do not expect to run your first marathon tomorrow, or see the big results immediately. Remember that old saying that it might not be easy, but it will be worth it. Having a specific long-term goal in mind is terrific. And having milestones for you to reach along the way can make reaching that final result more manageable and more rewarding. After all, there is a reason why there are mile-markers at a race.

  • Make a Game Plan. 5 of 10
    Make a Game Plan

    Now that you have your goals, your milestones, and your why, it is time to make a plan of action. Businesses succeed with a plan of attack. So do individuals. Think about how you will reach your health or fitness goal. You might even want to start at the finish line and back into the steps for getting there.

  • Write It Down. 6 of 10
    Write It Down

    Write down your goals, your milestones, your game plan and your why. It will become your reference material and give you a great reminder to keep on going.

  • Schedule Your Time. 7 of 10
    Schedule Your Time

    Reaching your health and fitness goals will take time. Make an appointment with yourself by putting it on the calendar. Sign up for fitness classes a week or two in advance. Schedule your workouts with a friend, accountability partner or a trainer. Set aside more time for food shopping or preparing healthy meals. Whatever are your goals may be, make time for them.

  • Plan Ahead. 8 of 10
    Plan Ahead

    We all have strengths and weaknesses. Think about where you can utilize your strengths to help you attain your goal, whether it is your attitude, your knowledge, your support system, your schedule, or something else. And on the other side, consider your areas of weakness and how you might be able to avoid obstacles by heading them off at the pass.

  • Hold Yourself Accountable. 9 of 10
    Hold Yourself Accountable

    Choose a friend, a family member or a professional to help you stay accountable. Go to fitness classes together. Weigh in together. Go food shopping together. Cook together. If you do not think having a person to hold yourself accountable would be helpful, consider an app on your phone or device. There are several amazing health, fitness, stress management and nutrition apps available that can help!

  • Be Kind to Yourself. 10 of 10
    Be Kind to Yourself

    Remember that this will take time and there are likely to be some roadblocks. There may be days when you feel like eating cookies instead of kale, or sitting on the sofa rather than on a spin bike. That old saying that long-term success is a marathon rather than a sprint is so very true, but every day is a new day and, thus, a new chance to work toward your goals. If you are kind to yourself, a roadblock may not stop you. Instead it can simply become one more thing for you to push out of your way as you carve your path to success.

 

Jessica also recently wrote:
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