Whether or not you participate in New Year’s resolutions, there’s something refreshing about turning the calendar year and starting fresh. It seems good of a time as any to set new goals. Health goals, in particular, seem to be in full force which is great. But unfortunately, statistics show when February rolls around the majority of people will have already given up.

For most people, setting a goal isn’t the problem. It’s the follow through. The plan. They don’t have a roadmap. And the truth is, goals don’t just happen. Most of the time they require a lot of discipline and hard work. Even if you understand this, knowing it is only half the battle (thanks GI Joe!). The other half involves laying out steps and stopping along the way to reassess and pivot if necessary.

If you’re looking to set health goals this year, I encourage you to do so. But instead making a mental note or even writing down all of your resolutions, I want you to get an entire legal pad or notebook and devote several pages for each large goal you want to achieve. For each of these goals, I want you to list 5-10 things you will do or change to help you meet that goal. I then want you to subdivide your goal into either monthly or weekly “micro goals” that all point towards your main goal. They should get more specific as you narrow the time frame.

At the end of each time period, leave room for notes. At least quarterly but no more frequent than once a month, I want you to reassess and write down what you’re doing well and not doing well. For things you’re not doing well on, write down how you can improve. If after assessing you feel there’s nothing you can do to improve or reach this goal, modify it (or pivot as I like to say). Don’t drop it altogether, figure out how you can change it.

Having an all-or-nothing mentality is the best way to never make any positive changes in your life.  We wouldn’t call someone who climbed 20,000 feet but didn’t summit Mt. Everest at 29,000 feet a failure compared to someone who never left the base camp, would we? Anything past the first step is progress, and getting as far as you can is something to strive for.

Here’s an example of how to lay out your goals.

Goal: I want to lose 20 pounds

Steps to help:
1. Stop skipping breakfast
2. Get more sleep
3. Stop eating out as much
5. Cook at home
6. Exercise more
7. Meal plan
8. Follow Village Farm Life blog and social media for good tips 🙂

Monthly Goal
1. Lose 3-6 pounds
2. Drink more water
3. Exercise regularly
3. Start using meal plans
4. Stop drinking soda

Week 1 goals
1. Write down my starting weight and clothing sizes
2. Make my lunch the night before work each day
3. Carry a water bottle and fill it up at least twice a day, try to drop sodas
4. Walk for 20 minutes 3 days this week
5. Find a home workout I think I can do and test it out

Week 2 goals
2. To be at or below starting weight, even if it’s just a pound
2. Increase walking to 25 minutes 3 days a week
3. Do some form of strength training on the days I don’t walk
4. Create or find a 3-day meal plan I think I can follow

Week 3 goals
1. To be at or below my previous weight, even if it’s just a pound
2. Increase my walk to 30 minutes OR increase my pace, continue strength training
3. Try a new home workout I think I might like (youtube or Pinterest yoga, HITT, or home workout- totall free)
4. Search online for healthy options for eating out and try something new
5. Try a new healthy recipe at home

Week 4 goals
1. To be at or below my previous weight, even if it’s just a pound
2. Continue working out doing a mix of cardio and strength training at least 4 days this week
4. Check the last time I had blood work done at my Dr’s office and make an appointment if it’s been more than 1 year
5. Research “sleep hygiene” and see what tips I can start implementing to improve my sleep

Monthly Assessment:
1. Did I give up?
2. I’ve only lost 2 pounds. This was a lot of hard work for only 2 pounds. BUT, I didn’t gain weight. And I feel better. This is worth continuing.
3. Eating out is still a problem. I need to focus on cooking simple meals at home with leftovers I can take to work. I’ll make my new weekly goals reflect this.
4. I enjoy walking but it’s getting cold outside. I know I don’t want to continue this during winter. I’m going to price out the cheapest gym membership I can find.

Quarterly Assessment:
2. I’ve lost 4 pounds, which means progress! I also feel much better and have noticed my clothes fit looser.  I’m not on track to lose 20 pounds this year. If the pace doesn’t pick up I’ll consider dropping my goal to 15 pounds for the year which is still something to be proud of.
3. To keep me on track with exercising I’m going to sign up for a 5K this summer.
4. I’m having trouble cooking at home and meal planning, and I’m still eating out too much. I’m going to invest in buying a meal plan that someone else has created based on my preferences and needs.

These are just examples, but you get the gist. Your weekly goals may be repetitive or you can modify them. You can add new ones if you’ve mastered your previous goals or if you find new challenges. This doesn’t have to be extremely regimented, the whole idea is to make a plan and keep yourself on track. Make micro goals and celebrate when you achieve them.  Every step forward, even if it’s only an inch, is progress.

These tips work for any goals, not just weight. I also encourage you to define your success broadly. For example, if your goal is weight, don’t just focus on a number. Focus on how you feel, your energy, your sleep, or how you’ve progressed overall in your health. Rember, it’s not all-or-nothing!

Don’t let another January go by throwing your resolutions to the wayside. You can do this, I believe in you!