All too often, we make goals that set us up for failure. We channel our optimistic energy into a decision to overhaul our life, but before we know it, the realities of the day-to-day have caught up to us and our goal is a mere memory.
Rather than trying to make a big life change all at once, try goals that focus on more incremental changes. When you focus on changing one thing at a time, it’s easier to track your progress, prevent procrastination, and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Here are some ways you can break down common goals into more manageable ones:
Goal: Eat Better
1. Up Your Veggie Servings
It’s no secret that eating a healthy diet is a key part of our physical and mental health; in fact, nutrition is an integral part of weight loss, depression, and addiction treatments alike. And while we all know that we should include vegetables into our everyday diet, only 25 percent of Americans are meeting this goal. It’s time to increase your vegetable consumption. If you’re veggie-averse, commit to at least one vegetable with every dinner or make vegetable smoothies for breakfast. If you’re already eating veggies but just not enough of them, start making a side salad part of every lunch and dinner.
2. Commit to Substitutions
One of the easiest ways to start eating better is to take things you already enjoy and make them healthier. Eat lots of rice? Try substituting cauliflower rice or quinoa. Pasta junkie? Buy whole wheat noodles and sauces low in sugar and sodium. Love tacos? Sub beef or pork with beans and veggies, or replace tortillas with lettuce wraps.
3. Pack Your Lunch
Take-out lunches are a diet-killer. Not only are restaurant meals typically high in fat and salt, they also tend to come in portion sizes big enough for two people. To make sure lunch isn’t sabotaging your nutrition, resolve to pack your lunch at least four days a week. You’ll save money and prevent the afternoon energy crash that comes after a big meal.
Goal: Lose Weight
1. Work Out Regularly
Exercise may seem daunting, but it can contribute to your weight-loss goals if done consistently. If you’re just starting out, try a low-impact workout for 15 minutes a few times per week, then gradually increase the intensity and duration. Even if you have a jam-packed schedule, squeezing in a short workout is better than skipping it. You may experience soreness at times but don’t let that stop you from progressing. Try a natural remedy to help speed up recovery; cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive version of cannabis, can reduce pain and inflammation. There are many CBD oils on the market, so make sure you read online comparisons before buying.
2. Quit Sweetened Beverages Soda, sweet teas, and other sweetened beverages are packed with calories and can cause blood sugar swings that tank your energy and leave you craving more. Make a commitment to stick to water, unsweetened tea, and other low- or no-calorie beverages.
3. Lay Off Late-Night Snacking
Mindless snacking in front of the TV or computer can add up to major weight gain over time, especially since late-night cravings tend toward sweet, salty, and starchy foods. Aim to cut back on post-dinner snacks by getting active during commercial breaks, replacing snacks with water, and limiting the amount of ready-to-eat snacks in your cupboards.
4. Cut Back on Junk Food
If you’re a junk food junkie looking to reform, make it your goal to spend less on unhealthy snacks and packaged meals. Set a junk food budget and stick to it. After a few times of spending all your snack money in week one, you’ll learn to space out your treats throughout the month.
Goal: Save More
1. Grow an Emergency Fund One great savings goal is to build an emergency fund that can cover at least three months of expenses in the event that you lose your job. An emergency fund can also cover unexpected bills, like car repairs or medical bills, without wrecking your budget.
2. Cut Back on Impulse Purchases
If you’re an impulse shopper or pleasure spender, make a goal to limit how much you spend on little things like coffee, takeout lunches, and cocktails. You don’t need to cut these things out completely; rather, calculate how much you’re currently spending, and commit to reducing it by a manageable percentage.
3. Get a Side Gig If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, resolve to pick up a side gig. Even 10 hours a week can make a difference, and with the right job, it won’t even feel like work. Look into low-stress gigs like dog-walking, teaching a fitness class, or even selling at the farmer’s market for a local grower.
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