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New Year Goals: More than a Resolution

New Year’s Day is fast approaching. After the New Year brunch it’s time to take down the decorations, put away the holidays gifts and for many, make a new set of new year goals or resolutions. For some, the idea of creating a new set of goals for the coming year can create stress. Especially if there are memories of previous attempts at keeping a goal that may have failed.

Resolution Challenges

Despite our best efforts, keeping New Year’s resolutions can be very challenging if they are not created the right way. Many people fall into the habit of creating goals that are unrealistic and unknowingly set them up for failure. When this happens, it is common to want to give up and tell yourself you will try again next year. Sound familiar?

Steps to Success

So, how do you break this vicious cycle? By following a few simple steps and viewing the goal from the right perspective, you can be sure to find success no matter what you are trying to achieve.

Here are 5 steps to make your new year goals stick:

  1. Be Realistic. The acronym “SMART” is a good tool to help this happen, It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-specific. For example, instead of saying “I want to improve my phosphorus this year”, a SMART goal is more specific. “I want to achieve a phosphorus level below 5.5 within the next 2 months in order to protect my bone and heart health”.
  2. Modify your action plan. Do you find yourself trying the same old methods to accomplish a previously struggled with goal? Instead, try approaching the goal with a new method. For example, if last year you tried to give up fast food in order to lose weight, but still found yourself at the drive through each weekend, try other methods. Gradually increase your exercise; cut back on mindless snacking; or learn about healthier food choices to make at fast food restaurants.
  3. Start small. Goals that are set too high are most likely to fail. Is your goal is to cut back on your fluid intake to the recommended 4 cups a day? If you currently drink about 8 cups a day, start with a smaller goal of reducing by one cup a day. Gradually build upon this as the habit becomes easier.
  4. Create accountability. This can be with yourself by keeping a journal or calendar to document your progress. Or involve other people to check in on you from time to time. The more accountability you have, the more likely you are to stick to the goal.
  5. Get rid of “all or nothing” thinking. We all are bound to fail at some point or another, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. Remember to give yourself credit for whatever you DO accomplish, even if it wasn’t exactly meeting the original goal. Then, reevaluate your plan and try again!
  6. Take action. Use this Healthy New Year’s Checklist for People with Kidney Disease to get started. If you are on home dialysis check out Five New Year’s Resolutions for Dialysis Patients.

The New Year is a perfect time to try to improve your health or create a new habit that will benefit your lifestyle. However, it is certainly not the only time of year that goals can be created or accomplished. When we view our new year goals as not just a short-term “resolution” but a long-term lifestyle change, we will be more likely to value and be committed to them.

Here’s to the start of a healthy and Happy New Year!

Joanna Foley, RD

Joanna Foley, RD

Joanna is a registered dietitian practicing over 3 years, with experience in both the acute care and outpatient environments. She is passionate about promoting behavior change to help individuals achieve higher quality of life by adopting healthier habits. Joanna believes that food truly is the best medicine. In her free time Joanna enjoys experimenting with new recipes, traveling the world with her husband, and running half marathons.