Psychologist, Jacqui Manning shares her top tips on setting health goals for 2021 and how to stay motivated.
Summer is fast approaching and is a time where many look to overhaul their health or even get a head-start on their New Year’s resolutions. We caught up with Psychologist Jacqui Manning to talk about setting health goals for 2021 and how to stay motivated.
L.N How important is it to set clear goals?
J.M Setting goals helps guide us and keep us focused on the things we want to achieve. It gives energy, clarity and direction to our decisions in everyday life. For example, if you have a goal to increase your energy and exercise is part of that, setting a roadmap in the shape of goal setting such as planning local walks, improving your sleep hygiene or eating health-inducing foods helps make our path clear. It’s also important to note that goal setting can often feel overwhelming if you try to plan for too many things at once, so look at your lifestyle and find the most achievable initial shift, focusing on mini-goals that allude to your big goal. For example, if you are looking to uplift your health, perhaps as a starting point you can look to limit eating out or aim to get active at least 15 minutes per day.
L.N How can we find motivation whilst living a stressful life?
J.M There is no doubt that motivation can leave the building when life gets busy and stressful. In fact, new research from WW suggests that Aussie’s are seriously struggling with motivation at the moment (49% cite it as their number one health barrier). My best advice would be to find your purpose or your ‘why’. In doing so, you are setting yourself up for success as when people set goals for the wrong reasons such as because your friends are doing it or because you think it’s the right thing to do, they will never stick long term. An example of this would be asking yourself what your personal reasons for getting healthier are? Do you have children you want to be fit for, or something you strive towards, such as running a marathon? Keeping your ‘why’ at the forefront of your mind will help you fit in steps towards your goals no matter how busy and stressed you are.
L.N How can we avoid to fall off the bandwagon from distractions?
J.M Research from WW actually indicated that anxiety and stress are the number one identified reasons for Aussies falling off the bandwagon. In saying this, everyone has their vice that causes them to abandon their goals so the first step is being aware of what exactly this is and plan for what to do when these circumstances arise. In addition, some easy everyday tips to staying on track include:
– Regularly reminding yourself of your bigger goals and the purpose for it
– Choosing a support network to keep you accountable – this could be a friend, family member, partner or online community
– Celebrating your wins no matter how big or small as any step towards your goal is something to be proud of
– Letting the slip-ups go and acknowledging that everybody is human and can’t be perfect 100% of the time
L.N What can we do when we get sidetracked?
J.M Shifting priorities and not being 100% focused are a fact of life but as mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with starting again and getting back on track! “I’ll start again on Monday” or “I’ve slipped up now so I’ll keep eating junk food” are common thought processes as often when we take a step in the wrong direction, we subconsciously give up. A good practice to start is, if you veer away from your goals or healthy habits, acknowledge it and move on! Remember that you have still put in the hard work up until that point so there is even more reason to keep going!
L.N How does the human mind work when it comes to motivation?
J.M We’ve all heard the saying that patience is a virtue, and this absolutely applies to the human mind! You might find that it takes a considerable amount of time for habits to stick – this is because the human mind needs time to carve out these new habits and “go-to” thinking patterns. This is why so many people that don’t see the results they want within a short time frame give up, so be patient with yourself if you still have your old impulses and cravings as your body and mind need a period to adapt.