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Transitioning Goal Setting into Habit Formation

I think we all can agree that setting wellness goals then working toward them is an important process in your journey toward meeting your long-term health objectives. But what happens once you have met a specific wellness goal? How do you make these new wellness routines stick around for the long run? Maintaining that healthy mind, body, and soul you have worked so hard to achieve.

 

This is when transitioning them into daily habits becomes the true objective to leading a healthy lifestyle and is the key to keeping you on your desired wellness path.



 The past few blog posts have been about building the foundation to developing your Strategic Wellness Plan, which hopefully provided you with some things to think about as you decide on what fits best into your life in the areas of nutrition, movement, and stress management.

 

Now it’s time to think about how to implement, maintain or improve upon one of those areas in your life so that you can continue on your wellness journey. This is where setting goals can be most helpful, but don’t stop there.

 

What happens after you meet a specific goal? What do you do next? How do you continue on your wellness journey and not get sidelined? This is where I feel many people, including myself, trip up and end up on a different path than the one we had intended. Where we climb back on to the diet rollercoaster, the couch instead of the gym sirens start calling, and the stress monster rears its ugly head.

 

You worked so hard to achieve your wellness goal, how do you transition this into a wellness habit which will serve you well for the years to come?

 

First let’s tackle goal setting and why it is important for all of us when it comes to working toward a specific achievement or objective.

 

‘Goals,’ are “the object or aim of an action, for example, to attain a specific standard of proficiency, usually within a specified time limit.” (Locke & Latham, 2002, p. 705). Basically they give us a target to aim for or something to work toward while defining the period in which we feel we can achieve them.

 

By having a stated goal we are more likely to do what it takes in order to accomplish that goal. When it comes to our health, many of us have set specific goals to help us obtain a desire health result. Such as to lose a stated amount of weight by a specific event or to train for a certain activity such as a 5k run, marathon, or obstacle course challenge. Having a defined goal provides us with the information we need so that we can set up and perform the tasks necessary in order to accomplish our objectives.

 



Setting goals helps you stay committed, provides clarity on what you need to do to keep on track, and for some provides a challenge that will keep them motivate to stay the course. When it comes to goal setting these are important points to define and will aid you in setting up metrics to track your progress toward completing your objectives, or at the very least, will keep you honest, so you stay the course. 

 

There are many tools and methods you can use to set up your goals. From SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time) to Backward Goals to WOOP Goals (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan), you have a plethora of methods to choose from. The good, or the bad, thing is, you have several ways in which you can tackle the objective you seek.

 

So needless to say, if you want to meet a specified goal find a tool or method that resonates well with not only the goal you want to achieve but the way in which you would like to stay on track and accountable to meet that goal. (For more information on these various goal setting tools and methods, I will share a couple links to sites at the end of this article.) 

 

When it comes to meeting our health objectives, though, many times we choose goals that give us a definitive end date such as a run or to lose weight for a specific event. Once that event passes though, old habits have a very malicious way of settling back into our lives.

 

Which leads to this question: how do you keep up the progress you have made so that you do not slip back to where you were months prior? How do you continue on your path to meeting your long-term objective of health and vitality?

 

Here are some ideas to help you stay on your wellness journey long after you have accomplished the initial goal that motivated you to get started in the first place. Some of these are motivation based, which I feel will always be part of the goal setting process. Others though are ideas to help support your journey emotionally, physically, and socially. All with the aim to make your wellness a habit that takes you far into your future.



 

First let’s address the motivation based methods for helping you stay on track. For me, I find that signing up for another event keeps me engaged and focused to stick with my workout and my nutrition routine. This was especially true when I was younger and not as motivated to beat the signs of aging as I am now.

 

Another event, or goal, keeps me on track and helps me to define what I need to do in order to perform at my best on the day of the event. Especially when I have so many other things, such as family and work, that are vying for my time and energy. All good things, but they also make it challenging to carve out a little me time when I feel the pull of mommy guilt or just plain busy with work and travel.

 

Having an event on my calendar motivates me to keep with my workout routine and kind-of gives me that “you most do this” mindset – especially if it is a tough event I signed up for. The thought of how much tougher it would be if I didn’t stay in shape or keep up my training helps motivate me to keep with my work out routine and to eat right.

 

Now that I am older and I am not carting my kids all over the place, my motivation to stay on my wellness journey has changed a bit. It’s more about what will happen if I do not stay on this path, than all the positives of staying healthy give me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the positives and they are still motivating factors, but sometimes the negative things that could happen if you do not stay healthy is the motivation you need in order to make the time for yourself non-negotiable.

 

As you get older for some reason it’s easier to give yourself excuses why you do not need to push yourself as hard as you used to in order to maintain good health. But this is precisely the time when you need to have a “no excuses” attitude and tap into all the things in your wellness vision that you could do if you stayed the course.

 

To help you stay the course, invite friends on your journey or find new friends who are interested in maintaining their overall wellness like you are. Support from others is another great way to keep with the routine you have created for yourself by going for your initial goal.

 

Not only is it enjoyable to do things with others but having someone else who is working toward similar wellness goals can help keep you accountable and on track. The bonus is that companionship is a wonderful stress reducer as well.

 

Another way to keep you working on your wellness journey is to take notice of how you feel when you are in the process of meeting your health goal, or after you have met your health goal.

 

Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better? Are you happier, glowing? How is your relationship with others? How is your relationship with yourself?

 

Noting the positive improvements in your overall health and well-being can be a great reminder of why you set out to meet this health goal in the first place. What can you do to continue to feel the way you do and to make improvements? Use these feelings as motivation to find a method or tool that will keep you moving forward.

 

The last method we will discuss here is scheduling your new routine into your day or keeping with what you have been doing, basically helping to solidify a habit. I don’t know about you, but if something is not scheduled or on my calendar, it typically doesn’t happen. The days where I do not schedule or at least know what my workout routine and my menu is for the day is when I typically fall of the wagon and do not accomplish what I need to that day for my health.



 

Now we will all have days like that, but the goal is making them as few and as far in-between as possible. Having a set time each day for your health activities and knowing what you are doing that day will help you stick with them so that they become a habit. When things become a habit they are harder to break and will help you create more positive wellness habits in your life.

 

James Clear has written all about habit stacking and how it helps you create good habits and break bad ones so that you can keep with the routines that add positive things to your life. Basically by tying new habits to things you already do; you are more likely to stick with them. Thus, creating a new healthy habit. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, his site is worth checking out for some nuggets and further training on habit stacking (https://jamesclear.com/).

 

Basically creating routines that help you stick to your wellbeing objectives helps insure success over the long haul and can even help you create new positive habits.

 

Working toward your wellness objectives through goal setting is probably one of the best ways to encourage you to start down your path to overall health and well-being. Having something to aim for gives you encouragement, confidence, accountability, and a direction, especially when life takes over and you feel like giving up.

 

Once you have achieved your initial goal though, don’t stop there! Be prepared for the next step after you have reached your goal. Think of each goal as a mini pit stop on your path to overall health and well-being. Make sure to enjoy the brief pause and excitement of achieving your goal, then get back in your car to continue on your journey. Think of the Griswald pause at the Grand Canyon!

 

Your health and life is a never ending beautiful journey with lots of great stops and sites to see along the way!

 

Be sure to enjoy the ride!

 

To your health & longevity!

~Kelly

 

Here are some good goal setting articles to read for further help in determining what method or process might be helpful to you:

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