December 28, 2023

Your Path to a Healthy New Year: Setting Wellness Goals

by SHIFT Team

The vicious cycle of New Year’s resolutions is upon us. Some 41% of Americans set resolutions every year to improve their lives, yet nearly 91% of them fail. Why? For most of these people, it comes down to improper goal-setting, particularly with health objectives.

While some take proactive steps, such as hiring an online personal trainer and nutritionist or taking part in employee health initiatives or corporate wellness programs, many people lack a clear roadmap. Whether they include losing weight, minimizing health risks, or forming new healthy habits, resolutions don’t stand a chance without the proper framework for success.

As Chicagoans begin to think about their New Year’s resolutions, here are some pragmatic and clear steps for achieving any type of wellness goal.  

The Importance of Health Goal Setting

Establishing health goals can help you reduce long-term disease risk and help you take a more proactive approach toward your health and well-being. If you’re planning on setting a New Year’s resolution, then consider a goal toward your personal health action plan to help you achieve a successful outcome. 

In fact, a recent large-scale experiment was conducted and proved that “approach-oriented goals” are far more effective than “avoidance-oriented goals.” This is to say that simply avoiding things like alcohol, sugar, or unhealthy foods is not going to work as effectively as creating a proactive plan that will help you achieve your goal.

Even the act of goal-setting itself is a powerful motivator. It creates a pathway and parses the long journey into smaller, achievable markers allowing for a deeper sense of direction and purpose along the way. 

People often set unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, which leads to a lack of success in following through and completing the goals. According to Dr. Linda Nebeling, an expert in behavioral change and nutrition at the National Institutes of Health, focusing on smaller, measurable goals in coordination with an overall plan is the best way to meet your goals of a resolution. 

When it comes to a personal health action plan, goal-setting transforms vague aspirations into tangible achievements, which allows you to understand the steps needed to achieve the desired outcome. It also fosters a sense of overall well-being and empowerment. 

The transformative journey of goal-setting helps you formulate your New Year’s resolutions with a proper mindset. Goal-setting for the New Year also serves as a linchpin for a longer-term, healthier lifestyle. Instead of focusing on radical transformations, your approach should be focused on manageable changes in your daily life. These incremental adjustments are the building blocks of lasting habits for long-term well-being.

The following repeatable steps are aimed at setting you up for success in your wellness goals for 2024. 

5 Steps to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution Health Goals

Step 1: Reflection

Before embarking on your wellness journey, take a moment for personal introspection. By reflecting on your current lifestyle and health, you can better understand the intricacies of your strengths and areas that actually require improvement. This self-awareness becomes the compass that guides you toward meaningful, personalized, and achievable goals. For Chicagoland professionals who are busy at work, it can be difficult to carve out time for this process, however, it’s a critical first step.

Step 2: SMART Goals

The foundation of success lies in creating SMART  — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound — goals. By drilling down details and framing them into the SMART rubric, you can ensure that your health goals are tangible and achievable. The specificity of your goals provides clarity, making the path forward more manageable. 

Most Chicago — and greater Illinois — professionals typically have the same goals in mind as the rest of America:

  • 52% want to exercise more
  • 50% want to eat healthier
  • 40% want to lose weight

These can all be broken down into SMART-oriented goals that are achievable and sustainable.

Step 3: Break Down Goals

Larger goals can tend to appear overwhelming, potentially derailing your motivation. The key is to break these substantial aspirations into smaller, more manageable benchmarks. 

Start by creating small milestones from your larger, outcome-based goals. Next, consider the day-to-day habits and tasks, known as process-based goals, that are required to achieve the milestone. By applying an outcome-based and process-based approach to your goals, you create a plan that can be repeated. Overall, the key here is consistency. 

Each series of achievable milestones should contribute to the overall objective. Establish a timeline for reaching each sub-goal to not only add structure to your journey but also allow for the celebration of victories along the way.

Step 4: Accountability and Support

Having an accountability plan can help you stay consistent with your goals, especially when obstacles emerge. Enlisting the support of friends, and family, participating with an online personal trainer and nutritionist, or enrolling in employee health initiatives at your company can be game-changers. We recommend sharing your goals because it not only creates a sense of accountability and responsibility but also provides a support system to navigate challenges. Collectively celebrating milestones enhances the journey’s significance and keeps your eyes on the end goal in a sustainable way. 

Step 5: Adjust and Adapt

Flexibility is essential in the long-term success of health goal setting and your resolutions. If your life is dynamic, then so are your goals. Embrace the concept of adaptation, allowing your goals — and the habits behind them — to evolve based on changing needs and circumstances. 

You’ll need to create resiliency in your habits so that when life throws a wrench into your routine, such as a vacation or a stressful work stretch, your habits are already ingrained as a part of your daily life. That way, even when you have a disruption in your routine, your habits will come back much easier and you can remain on track in your personal health action plan.

The ability to pivot ensures that your goals remain relevant, achievable, and adaptable to the various seasons of life.

SHIFT’s Commitment to Your Health Goal-Setting

To put it simply, once you create sustainable healthy habits, your resolutions are much easier to accomplish. At the dawn of 2024, you want to be equipped and empowered to reach your goals with a solid plan already in place. 

At SHIFT, we equip you with the personalized support, tools, and guidance you need to succeed. Our programs, resources, and world-class physicians, registered dietitians, fitness coaches, and physical therapists craft unique healthcare plans that align with your individual health goals.  

Our Chicago-based concierge healthcare team aims to make positive, lasting changes in your health and your life. From executive wellness examinations to personal instruction from a health coach, we offer comprehensive care options.

Ready to start keeping your New Year’s resolutions for good with the help of a specialized concierge medical team right here in the heart of Chicago?

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