New-Year-ListAs the New Year approaches, many of us naturally begin to think about what we would like to do differently next year.

I’ve often waited until December 31st, or even January 1st (and maybe even the 2nd!)—to jot down my New Year’s goals. From experience, waiting that long can often lead to disaster for falling through as the year moves forward. I realize now how important it is to take time to shift your mindset before the clock turns to the first of a new year.

And that’s what this article is about: My top three tips for setting your 2016 healthy New Year’s goals and to ultimately help you keep them!

Number 1: Take Time to Review 2015

Before jumping headlong into 2016, take a moment to reflect on 2015. First, celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Identifying what you did well helps to help cultivate self-trust which is key as you begin to work on your goals for next year.

Secondly, acknowledge areas of improvement. This step can help determine where you may need to shore up your resources to create a solid foundation to reach your goals in 2016. So, what went well this year for your health? Why did it go well? Where was there room for improvement? What would you do differently? Take time to think through these questions. Write everything down and don’t edit yourself.

Number 2: The Art of Setting GoalsResolutions

Let’s get real: resolutions get a bad rap! But really, what better time is there to reset than the start of a new year with a full fresh 365 days? The trick is not to fall into the vague resolution setting trap and get bogged down with guilt or get wistful about goals unmet.

It’s time to get S.M.A.R.T. with our goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. This is the framework you will use to ground your resolutions and ultimately lead to your success in 2016.

Write down all of your health goals. Again, do not edit yourself. Once you have your list, let it sit for at least an hour. Overnight is even better! When you come back to it, pick your top five goals in order of priority with number one being your first priority. After, put your top five list into the S.M.A.R.T. framework.

You won’t initiate all five of your goals on January 1. Instead you’ll focus on your first priority only and when you’ve reached that goal, you’ll move to your second goal and so on.

Don’t throw your original long list away though! You may blaze through your top five before December 31, 2016. If that happens, return to that original list and identify your next five priorities to put into the S.M.A.R.T.  framework and keep going! The process of personal improvement is never done!

Number 3: What’s in It for You?

Passion and excitement are an important part of the journey so be sure that your goals light your fire but you will need more than that to carry you through those cold, damp days of February when the thought of waking up at 5 a.m. to work out is very unappealing.

One way to create sustained desire to reach your goals is to identify the benefits. For example, will losing weight increase your energy to allow you to be more active with your children? For your top 2016 health goal, identify at least three benefits you will gain for following through on your resolution.

The start of a New Year is full of possibilities! Take the time now to think about what you would like to accomplish and how you will carry through that feeling of potential from day one to day 365.

What are your 2016 health goals? What was your number one health success in 2015?

Have a Happy New Year!NY-2016

Adapted from an article by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics