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Kick goals

AROUND half of all Australians make a resolution each year as part of the New Year’s ritual. But it seems only 12 percent manage to keep them. So why do so many of us fail?

Tips for goal setting  

One reason may be we simply make too many. Picking just one resolution and planning how you’ll get there could improve your odds of sticking with your goal throughout the year.

Another common mistake is making resolutions too general. Instead, aim for goals that are realistic, attainable and measurable. Then prepare and plan the steps necessary to get you there. This’ll help give you the confidence you need to keep your resolution despite the odd slip-up.

Follow these 5 tips to boost your chance of success:

  1. Start small, change only one behaviour at a time
  2. Be realistic and keep your goals simple
  3. Talk about it with others to keep you accountable
  4. Don’t beat yourself up if you veer off track
  5. Ask for support from family and friends

Stay on track  

Here are our top 10 resolutions with tips for staying on track:

1) LOSE EXCESS WEIGHT
Three in five Australian adults are overweight or obese according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, so it’s not surprising this is a popular resolution. To help reach and maintain a healthy weight for you, experts advise:

  • keep weight loss goals realistic for you (no more than 0.5-1 kg each week)
  • make your goals measurable, eg how much will you lose and by when?
  • plan for setbacks and re-assess your goals along the way.

2) EXERCISE MORE
It’s recommended adults get active for at least 30 minutes on most days, preferably every day. This could include moderate-intensity exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming as well as more vigorous-intensity exercise such as jogging or a boxing class. The Australian Department of Health offers the following tips:

  • See exercise as an opportunity, not an inconvenience.
  • Be active every day in as many ways as you can, like taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking instead of driving to the shops.
  • You don’t need to do the 30 minutes each day in one go. Break it up into smaller sessions if that’s easier.

3) STOP SMOKING
Within two weeks of quitting smoking, your heart disease risk begins to reduce and after one year, that risk is halved when compared to a continuing smoker. But different people respond to different methods of quitting, so find the method that works best for you. These might include one or more of the following:

  • cold turkey – stop smoking altogether by a set date
  • cut down – reduce the amount you smoke gradually and eventually stop
  • nicotine replacement therapy – such as patches and gum
  • prescribed medication.

4) DRINK LESS ALCOHOL
It’s recommended men and women drink no more than two standard drinks a day and no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion to reduce their risk of alcohol-related injury. If you want to cut down, try:

  • alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones
  • drinking slowly
  • swapping to drinks with a lower alcohol content
  • eating before or while you are drinking
  • putting your hand up to be designated driver.

5) EAT BETTER
Most people know what they have to do to eat better but find it challenging to stick with healthy eating all the time. Instead, try to eat well most of the time. These smaller steps to a better diet may help:

  • eat well during the week and indulge only on weekends
  • start each day with a healthy, filling breakfast
  • take a healthy lunch and snacks to work
  • find healthy new recipes to try at dinnertime.

6) SPEND MORE TIME WITH FAMILY
Easier said than done, making time for family and friends can be challenging in our modern society. Try some of these tips:

  • plan a regular family day, whether this is once a week, a fortnight or a month
  • schedule in a ‘date night’ with your partner
  • eat meals together as a family as often as possible
  • put aside phones and social media at times when the family are together.

7) ACHIEVE A BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Trying to prevent your work life blurring into your home life is a modern day reality. While more Australians are working from home, turning off the email during dinner or rejecting a work call when out with the family can still be a challenge. If you feel you haven’t got the balance right, here are some suggestions:

  • set a time to switch off your work email/phone at home
  • leave your desk at lunchtime to eat outdoors or go for a walk
  • try to avoid bringing work home on weekends.

8) GET ORGANISED
It feels great to be organised. Whether it’s de-cluttering your home, organising your paperwork or planning a budget, start with a list then break down your chores into do-able stages. Here are some simple tasks to get you started:

  • throw out, donate or recycle unwanted items at home
  • put things back in their place once you’ve finished with them
  • store and label things such as paperwork and hobby items
  • take the stress out of evenings by planning meals ahead
  • schedule regular exercise sessions in your diary.

9) LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Research shows any activity that involves thinking and learning may benefit your brain health and help protect against dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia recommend a variety of mentally-stimulating activities such as doing a course, learning an instrument or language, or doing jigsaw puzzles and crosswords.

10) HELP OTHERS
More than six million Australians volunteer in some capacity each year. According to Volunteering Australia, most people say they do it to make a difference or because it gives them a sense of purpose. How can you get involved? Contact www.volunteeringaustralia.org to find an opportunity near you.

Further information  

I Can Quit
www.icanquit.com.au

Sources  

Alzheimer’s Australia. Exercise your brain. [online] Available from:
http://www.yourbrainmatters.org.au

Australian Government Department of Health. Alcohol. [online] Available from:
http://www.alcohol.gov.au

Australian Government Department of Health. Physical activity guidelines. [online] Available from:
http://www.health.gov.au

Cancer Institute NSW. Discover the health benefits of quitting smoking. [online] Available from:
http://www.icanquit.com.au

Grant A. New Year –New You? The Science of New Years’ Resolutions. [online] 2010. [Accessed 12 Dec 2013] Available from:
http://www.smc.org.au

Volunteering Australia. The latest picture of volunteering in Australia. [online] Available from:
http://www.volunteeringaustralia.org.au

Last published: 31 December 2013

Disclaimer
This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa by health professionals. To the best of their knowledge it is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.

Bupa Australia Pty Ltd makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. Bupa Australia is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information. Except that which cannot be excluded by law. We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your health. For more details on how we produce our health content, visit the About our health information page.