If you have made New Year’s resolutions in the past, you probably already know that sticking to them is incredibly difficult. In fact, approximately 80% of these resolutions ultimately fail, most by the middle of February. But if your resolutions (or any goals, for that matter) involve your health and wellness, sticking to them can make a real difference in your quality of life. How can you have accountability and stick to your health goals all year long? Here are some tips and tricks.
Find a partner
Accountability is most successful when you have an accountability partner. Enlist your best friend, your spouse, or your parent to help you stay on track. Find out if they would be interested in taking on the same challenge. Working together to meet your goals increases accountability and makes you both less likely to take a day off, due to concerns about letting the other person down.
But your accountability partner doesn’t have to be working toward the same goals at all. In this case, ask them to call you once a week to check on your progress. Reach out to them whenever you feel discouraged or are starting to let your goals slide.
Join a support group
A one-on-one accountability partner is an excellent resource, but may not be enough on its own. People have their own lives and concerns, and putting too much responsibility on one other person is unfair. If you’re trying to reach a particularly challenging wellness goal, such as losing weight or giving up alcohol, joining a support group can help. You can find groups for nearly any health goal, both in person and online. You’ll be surrounded by an entire community of people who truly understand the challenges you are facing. And you will all be accountable to each other, making it easier to keep going.
Choose one goal at a time
You might have a picture in your head of what health and wellness look like. For example, you might see yourself eating only nutritious foods, exercising after work every day, drinking only water, and enjoying a strong sense of mental peace. And over time, you can likely get there. But no one can do it all at once. An important part of accountability is making a realistic assessment of where you are now and setting achievable short-term goals to help you along the way. Pick the thing that seems easiest to attain and focus solely on that. You’ll build a record of successes that encourage you to keep working towards harder and harder goals.
Focus on incremental successes
For each larger goal, break it down into small, achievable daily steps. Each night, write down what you plan to do the next day to support your health resolution. When you accomplish it, reward yourself. And if you get off track, forgive yourself. Renew your accountability commitment and start again, whether it’s been a day, a week, or even a month since you last pursued your goals.
Gamify your goals
If you, like many people, enjoy competition, consider gamifying your health and wellness goals. There are a plethora of apps for both iPhones and Android phones that allow you to not only set and track your personal fitness goals, but also create teams and compete with others who have the same goals. Just be careful not to overdo it. If you know you have a strongly competitive personality, you could be tempted to do too much at once. Know your current health and fitness status, and don’t get drawn into competition with people who have been at it for much longer than you have or are in better current physical shape.
Keep a journal
A fitness journal can be an excellent way to hold yourself accountable. Every day, make a short assessment of that day’s progress. What did you want to accomplish? Did you succeed? What factors contributed to your success? If you didn’t accomplish what you hoped, why not? What factors stood in your way? Track your goals and accomplishments over time, and patterns will start to emerge. This information can help you tweak your expectations and carve out a path to success.
Work with a professional
If you’re embarking on a new health and wellness journey, you probably have a lot of questions. You might not know what’s realistic for your body and your current state of health. You may have a complicated relationship with food or exercise or mental health. Or you might simply not be aware of all the different possible paths to reach your goals.
Consider making an appointment with an expert in the area you want to focus on, such as a dietician or a personal trainer. A thorough assessment plus a few sessions could help put you on the right track. And professionals can also act as coaches, holding you accountable and teaching you new strategies for holding yourself accountable.
Don’t give up
Ultimately, the best way to reach any goal is to just keep going. You are only human, and you will have good days and bad days. Sometimes you’ll feel energetic and positive and sure that your goal is just a few steps away. Other times, you’ll feel lethargic and sad and like your goal is unattainable. It’s all a perfectly normal part of the journey. Give yourself permission to take breaks. When you’re feeling down, have a cheat meal or spend the afternoon on the couch binge watching your favorite show. Achieving health and wellness is a lifelong commitment, not a short-term sprint, and real life will sometimes get in the way.
The important thing is not to give up overall. Keep your goals in mind, write everything down in your wellness journal, and call on your accountability buddies. Success in anything is not a straight line. Realize that there will be ups and downs and lots of plateaus along the way. Keep your mind focused on your goals while also allowing yourself time to be human, and you will notice ongoing progress over time.