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Learning to develop healthy habits can have a positive impact on your health, happiness, and quality of life. Makes sense, right?

Most of us understand the idea. We set goals or make New Year’s resolutions to improve. It’s kind of like drawing a line in the sand saying: “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.”

But too often, that’s as far as it goes. About two-thirds of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up within a month.1 But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you want to make a change or drop old habits for new ones, you need a SMART plan to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Before you get started, get clear about WHY you want to achieve a specific goal. For example:

  • I want to lose weight. Why?
  • I want to eat healthier. Why?
  • I want to sleep better. Why?
  • I want to lower my blood pressure. Why?

Once you have a goal in mind, defining your “why” can help motivate you to take a step forward.

  • Why do you want to make a change?
  • What would it mean to you to accomplish your goal?

When you approach your goals with a bigger purpose in mind, it can help you focus on why you’re putting in the effort to make a change.

Once you’re clear about why you want to make a change, use these 5 steps to create a SMART plan to accomplish your goal.

1. Be Specific

Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Examples:

  • Lose 10 pounds.
  • Lower blood pressure by 10 points.
  • Drink 64+ ounces of water a day.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes at least three days a week.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

Identify a specific goal you want to accomplish and are willing to work at to achieve

2. Make It Measurable

Being able to measure your progress will help you be successful.

  • How many minutes a day will you exercise?
  • How many steps a day will you take?
  • How much water will you drink per day?
  • What is your ideal weight or blood pressure?

Define how you will measure your progress and explain the actions you will take to help you reach your goal.

For example, a daily weigh-in or food diary can help you track your progress. Keep it simple.

3. Set an Attainable Goal

Your goal needs to be attainable.

Why? Setting unrealistic goals is one reason so many people fail at accomplishing New Year’s resolutions. Your goals shouldn’t be an all-or-nothing effort.

Start small and improve from there. If 80 percent of the time you’re doing the right thing to attain your goal, you can do the wrong things 20 percent of the time and still move forward without beating yourself up about it.

4. Chose a Reasonable Outcome

If you don’t exercise much right now, but you set goal to run a marathon next week, that’s probably not going to happen.

Your goals need to be reasonable.

Is it something you can accomplish within the timeframe you’ve set, and something you’re willing to do?

For example, losing 1 to 2 pounds a week is a reasonable goal for most people who need to lose weight.

And if you want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, walking on a treadmill isn’t going to work if you hate it. Try walking outside.

5. Create a Timeline

Set a timeline for both small and large goals. This will help you develop healthy habits that will last.

Define what you will do:

  • Today
  • In 3 days
  • In 7 days
  • In 30 days
  • In 90 days.
  • In 120 days

For example: Set a date for reaching your ideal weight and commit to taking the necessary actions to get there.

If you really want to develop healthy habits, you can. And you don’t need to wait until New Year’s 2023. Now…today…is always the best time to improve your health.

If you want to create healthy habits that last, set SMART goals to create a plan that provides structure, a routine, and repetition of actionable steps to help you be successful.

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