Health / Expert Advice

How to Set Effective Year-Round Wellness Goals

Resolutions beyond January.

In recent years, ‘wellness’ has become a trendy catchall for anything that pertains to enriching our lives. From healthy foods to frequent burpees and a balance between deadlines and daydreams, being mindful of how we manage our energy is essential. However, many people think the most about wellness and associated resolutions in January, when it’s top of mind and overflowing on social media. Getting a jump start during the start of another lap around the sun is smart. However, wellness isn’t one of those things that you can think about once and find success.

Rather, as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Melody Li explains, setting wellness goals is deciding that you desire—and deserve—more in areas of health that you have control over. And then, (most importantly), pursuing them by paying attention to your holistic wellbeing, and creating sustainable, realistic measures of achievement. “They matter year round because the human mind and body don’t follow a rigid calendar.  Rather, we shift, expand, and grow throughout the year,” she continues. “So, while it’s important to set goals, it’s even more important to be willing to adjust the goals so [that] they align well with our present selves and circumstances.”

Here are the best methods for keeping wellness and your priorities on your mind 365 days a year.

Set a resolution that makes you uncomfortable.

Most people miss the mark on resolutions in one of two ways. They select an outlandish expectation that no one could pull off, or they keep to the status quo because it’s easy. Neither of these exactly build our self-esteem or challenge us to push out of our comfort zone. Now is the time to choose something that you know you have the power to do, yet also is a wellness feat that you’ve struggled with. Perhaps it’s going to bed an hour earlier. Or, meditating, no matter what, ten minutes per day. Or, maybe joining a wellness group in your community where you don’t know a soul. Seems straightforward, but instrumenting it into your routine takes diligence. It won’t be second-nature at first.

“Trying something new and different in itself is a mile marker. You may surprise yourself. Immerse yourself in new environments, social groups, or activities that stretch you, and learn to acclimate with the discomfort,” Li continues. “In the process, you will build new connections, novel curiosities and perspectives, and [build] more resilience.”

Rethink measurements and timeframes.

If you think about it, most resolutions are centered around accomplishing a certain number of an activity or behavior—30 days of yoga, dry January, and so on. Li says that while these are impressive feats, motivation can also wane quickly when we no longer feel as if we have a reason to count. To keep wellness goals booming year-round, she suggests transforming how you think about them. Go by how you feel, rather than striving for a specific number. “Instead of focusing on the body weight you want to reach, set goals on how you want your body to feel when you do certain activities, like biking to work or walking up the stairs at work,” she continues. “Ask yourself: if you want to feel stronger, what areas of your life do you need to shift?”

Or, perhaps you feel like your friendships are toxic and you want to meet new people who fulfill you in other ways. Li warns against deciding that you’ll make a specific number of new pals. Instead, thoroughly invest in the right type of relationships that you think could be meaningful in the long run by encouraging frequent meet-ups and communication.

Create a vision board.

Even if you haven’t taken a pair of scissors to a magazine in a decade, the practice of selecting images that speak to your wellness goals is a fun exercise to make them more tangible.

To start, go through your favorite health and fitness magazines and/or whatever magazines you feel best represent the qualities and/or experiences that you want to demonstrate through your wellness goals. Then, you find images, phrases, or words that represent the experiences and feelings that you ultimately want to create as a result of accomplishing your goals.

According to Andrea Arlington, founder of Families United For Recovery, seeking new beginnings means being able to picture it. Images, words, and scenes carve the path. “If you’re wanting to build a new career, you would find images of work environments [that] you’d like to be in. If you want more inner peace, you’d find images of people doing yoga or meditating,” she says, as an example. Worried about seeing someone else’s smiling face instead of yours? Cover up the face or print out photos of yourself to put yourself directly in the center of your vision.

Make wellness part of your everyday.

And, more to the point, part of your daily thoughts. Most wellness goals are centered around positivity and having the ability to pinpoint areas where you need more attention. It’s like training your body. If you want to lift more, you must gradually get there. Run faster? It takes time.

Fitness and Wellness Coach Kevin Bailey says that one of the most meaningful ways to set wellness goals year-round is to engage your mind throughout the day by shifting your train of thought. “The way that you think has a tremendous impact on the way that you perceive the world. The way that you perceive the world will impact how you experience life,” he explains. “If you perceive the world as a place where you can become something great, and a place where there is love, and that you can choose to take care of your mind and body so that it can promote your body’s natural state of health, then you will expect positive things from this world, and your actions and behaviors will be positive.”

By taking this approach to wellness, you teach yourself to think well of yourself and your goals, thus, making it more likely that you will succeed. “If your wellness goals are seasonal, or inconsistent, you will be on the roller coaster [of] weight up, weight down, health up, health down, active [and] then inactive. With this type of inconsistency, you will have a negative net result and unsuccessful wellness goals,” he says. “We are either moving forward or backward. So, we should be striving towards improving our wellbeing daily.”

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