Setting wellness goals is important to your overall well-being and continual development.
To set a wellness goal you can:
- Start where you are today and envision where you want to be in the future.
- Identify the dimensions of wellness that need further development.
- Make adjustments for challenges or opportunities that arise.
- Find ways to measure your success, collect data on your progress, and review it regularly.
- Think of goals as an infinite development process that you will work at every day to become the best you.
Why I Set Personal Wellness Goals Not Resolutions
Every time I make a resolution I forget about it. I would choose one lofty thing to accomplish for the entire year and I might or might not remember it by the end of the year. Sometimes I would spend hours working on my resolution all year and I would actually achieve it.
When I’ve made resolutions in the past, I always treated them as a sustainable change. Something that I would maintain after I had reached my goal. My goals are interwoven in my hobbies and activities that continue to be parts of my life year after year.
Let’s Run a Marathon…My Physical Wellness Goal
In 2008 I resolved to complete a full marathon. I spent hours training with my running partner, Juli, and we completed the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but I also had a question in my head…”Now what?”
Running a marathon was a huge triumph in my distance running, which hovered at 10K for many years. After the marathon I ran a half marathon and several smaller races before giving up distance running due to injuries. Running was my mental health outlet via physical exertion. I started going to Spin class because indoor cycling is an intense but lower impact workout than running.
Eventually, the goal of running a marathon turned into setting a goal to become a Spin instructor. Becoming a Spin instructor led me to spend 2 years crafting playlists and creating a blog to share them. That blog eventually turned into this website.
If I had stuck with a resolution of just running a marathon that year, what about after? Would I have accomplished all those other things year after year by setting new goals? Possibly. Or I may have just continued to run a marathon every year.
Every year I challenge myself to grow. and learn more about my abilities. I am always striving to better myself by building on my past experiences.
My wellness goals are related in a very odd way, as many things in my life are. The one thing they all have in common is each of them took many smaller goals and smaller steps to reach success.
How You Can Set Personal Wellness Goals This Year
New Challenges and New Opportunities
Every year life brings new challenges and new opportunities to grow. I meet new people, see new places, and have new experiences each year. Any of these novelties can alter the course of the year which can impact my goals for the year.
Sometimes good things happen during the year. Like children being born, new house, new job, pay raise, etc. Other times change can bring financial hardship, strained familial relationships, or difficulties at work.
Goals have to be adaptable to life in a way that makes them manageable.
Change Happens, Adjust Your Wellness Goals Accordingly
Don’t worry if your life circumstances change your ability to commit to a goal you made in the beginning of the year. That happens sometimes. When his happens to me, I celebrate how far I’ve come since I began working on the goal. I stop to consider if I can restart my journey at a later point. If I cannot continue with this goal, I try helping someone else by sharing what I learned. No experience is worthless.
Don’t forget! Goals can be adjusted at any time. When I start getting anxious about a goal I’ve set, it’s helpful for me to remember that I can alter how long it will take to accomplish this goal. It might take longer than a year. I can change how I will accomplish my goals or what parts I will accomplish this year.
Tip 1: Take Advantage of New Challenges and Opportunities
- If a challenge arises, don’t get overwhelmed.
- Think of the challenge as a welcomed learning opportunity.
- Accept. Appreciate. Act. Choose how you are going to manage change and stay true to your wellness goals.
- You have complete control over how you respond to change in your life.
Take Growth at Your Own Pace
All of my accomplishments have been made by setting and achieving short-term goals that helped me reach my long-term goal. I carve time out of my schedule to work towards my smaller and larger goals every day and week.
Since I never know what life will bring, I have to be ready to adjust. I revise my short-term goals wellness goals throughout the year. With some goals I set a very specific timeline. With others, I give longer windows for things to play out as they naturally should.
Even when I set timelines for my goals, the harder part is keeping track of them. When I am tracking my goals I give myself a target number of weeks or months to accomplish my sub-goal. If I haven’t accomplished it by the end of the year I assess if I want to continue working on it the next year.
Example Spiritual Wellness Goal
I told myself in the past 2 years I would get certified to be a Reiki healer up to level II. In 2019, I wasn’t able to find a workshop that fit my budget and schedule. I kept telling myself to keep my eyes open.
I recently registered for a workshop at Clarksburg Yoga and Wellness in January 2020. If I had made a resolution to accomplish this in 2019, I might have stopped looking at the end of the year and missed the Instagram post about the workshop.
Tip 2: Goals Support Your Continual Growth
- Map your goals to the dimensions of wellness. This can help you identify sub-goals.
- Your sub-goals should be smaller more immediate steps you can take to make progress towards your main goal.
- Some sub-goals are time bound, use apps to help yourself track your progress throughout the year.
- You’ll never run out of time! You can always roll your goals into the following year. As long as you remain on your wellness journey you are making progress!
Make Measurable Progress
I’ve learned from years of project management that every goal must be measured. However, many people set resolutions that aren’t measurable.
A good goal statement should have a measurable component so you know if the change you desire has been reached. I make benchmarks for what progress looks like so I know if I’m getting closer to my goal. Targets also help me make sure that my goal is reasonable to attain.
Example Occupational Wellness Goal
If your goal is to find a new job this year a benchmark for success might include the number of applications you complete per week.
The next step is to set a target for this benchmark. If you think your schedule will allow 5 free hours to complete applications each week you need to set a safe goal for the number you will submit every week.
A modest goal for this amount of time might be 3 applications per week. If you are really pushing for a new job you might want to set the target higher at 5 – 10 applications per week.
If you figure out that each application takes 5 hours, you can’t realistically expect to submit 10 applications a week.
Having data is important to make sure that your goals are realistic and attainable. When you set a target for your sub-goals or benchmarks you can always reset the target once you have data.
Make sure when you are setting goals that you are factoring in how much time it will take to be successful. Time management is an important part of success.
Tip 3: Measure Your Success and Smile
- Focus on the thing you want the most and how you can measure your progress to get there.
- Time-bound goals are helpful to measure. You can measure how many times per week, month, or year you want to accomplish something. Frequency and consistency are great measures of progress.
- If you want to improve something, think about if that means you should increase or decrease an action or behavior. This increase or decrease might affect multiple dimensions of wellness.
- Write your goal statement using this formula: (thing you really want) will happen by (time) as measured by (measure of progress).
- If you want to increase or decrease something you can write your goal like this: I will (decrease/increase) (thing you want to work on) by (how you will do this). I will measure my progress every (day, week, month) by (measure of progress). I will see (amount of increase/decrease) by (target date for achieving your goal).
Sometimes I think I have a long time to reach my goal, but time moves very fast.
Each moment matters.
Resolutions Can Be Helpful…In the Context of Your Life
I won’t ever say there is only one way to do wellness. Everyone’s wellness recipe is different. These examples are just the way that I process the goals I set in my life.
When you set a goal or a resolution, what you’re really trying to say is that you want to show up for yourself. And… you want to do it in the context of your own life.
We are all multi-faceted people. Your goals and accomplishments should reflect where you are in life. Your goals are for you and should not be compared to where anyone else is or their journey to get there.
Today is the easiest short term goal that you could choose to accomplish. Only you know your life and how much you can achieve each day. Things that work for you may not work for me, and vice versa.
If you want to make resolutions, do it! Being on your Wellness Grind is all about finding your own wellness lifestyle.
Don’t Resolve Yourself to Death
My last piece of advice is, don’t over commit yourself. There are so many steps to life and every one requires care, attentiveness, thoughtfulness, mindfulness, and communication.
If I made a resolution for every one of my goals for the year, I would end up with way too many resolutions. It’s also not helpful for me to focus on one large resolution for an entire year. I have too many other things to accomplish to only work on one thing!
If I did have to choose one thing, of course it would be being the best mom possible to Asha. However, this year some of my goals are simply to be a better person, to live a healthier lifestyle, and to support the people around me.
Assess What Works Best For You
In closing, the first thing you can do is to assess what you did last year and how you can grow from where you are now. At the end of the year you can ask yourself:
- What did I set out to do at the beginning of the year? Was it measurable? If yes, take a look at your measurable progress.
- Was what I accomplished a terminal goal or are there steps that I need to carry forward into the new year? If it was a terminal goal (it had a finite end like earning a degree), what are the next steps?
- Did I change course during the year or decide to stop working towards my goal? Explore the reason that happened. Don’t judge your actions, instead think about how you can move forward in the future.
It’s helpful to track your progress continually throughout the year. You don’t need a specific number of goals, short-term goals, or benchmarks. You will need to decide what you are trying to accomplish depending on your lifestyle.
Consider how each of the goals you are setting might impact your wellness across the dimensions. If you need to know more about the dimensions of wellness you can look here.
Try to set goals that fit the dimensions you are already working on as well as the ones you need to work on.
Think about all of the things you want most in life and what is most important to you. There are are so many options that you need to select the goals that are the most meaningful and powerful for you.
Make sure that you know what exactly you want to spend your time doing for the next year that will help you grow and inspire others to grow as well.
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I agree – goals are a positive way of looking at things rather than many resolutions that can be quite negative – often to ‘stop’ doing things.
Thank you for the advice!
I love the focus you put on actionable tips to help keep the focus on your goal!