Achieving your health goals – make a change

Improving your health can be tough, but that’s okay. Many of us have tried to be healthier by eating better, exercising more, or cutting down on things like alcohol. Some people find it harder than others, and that’s okay too. The most important thing is that you give it a try.

We also know that there are things that can make it easier for us to make these changes. You can learn more about these helpful tips on the links below. But before you do that, take a moment to think about what you want to change and why it’s important to you. This website has lots of information about staying healthy.

To make it easier for you to make these changes, you can click on the links below to find simple steps, techniques, and resources.

  • Setting goals and planning – This means deciding what you want to achieve and making a plan. Imagine it’s like making a list of things you want to do to be healthier, like eating more fruits and veggies or going for a bike ride.
  • Track your progress – Keep an eye on how well you’re doing with your goals. Think of it as a checklist where you mark off the things you’ve done. This can show you how much you’ve improved.
  • Maintain motivation – Staying excited and interested in your goals is essential. Imagine it’s like keeping your enthusiasm up for a favourite game or hobby. You can do this by reminding yourself why being healthy is important to you.
  • Avoid setbacks – Sometimes things don’t go as planned. That’s okay! It’s like when you’re playing a game and make a mistake. You can learn from it and keep going. Just remember that setbacks are a normal part of making changes.

Setting goals and planning

Setting a goal – When you want to make a change in your behaviour to become healthier, you start by choosing what you want to change. This is your goal. It’s like picking a target or a destination.

Having clear goals – It’s important to know exactly what you want to change and what you want to accomplish. Think of it as having a map that tells you where you’re going.

Big and Small Goals – You might have a big goal, like eating healthier, and then smaller goals along the way, like eating more veggies each week. These small goals are like stepping stones that help you reach your big goal.

Top tips

Make sure your goal is something that you can realistically achieve. That means it’s doable and not too hard. Setting a goal that’s too tough can make you feel less motivated and might not work out. It’s like aiming for a score in a game that’s too high, it can be frustrating.

Start with small changes. It’s like taking baby steps. You can always adjust and make your goal a little bigger once you’ve started making healthy changes.

So, remember, choose a goal that makes sense and is doable. Start with small steps, and as you make progress, you can adjust your goal. You’re on your way to success!

  • My health goal is…I want to be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping by the end of the year
  • My smaller specific goals are…Walk for 20 minutes every day, do two online exercise classes at home east week and walk my children to school instead of driving
  • My reason for making this change is…This goal is important to me because I want to have more energy to play with my kids outside without getting tired and out of breath. It is all about having fun together!

Making a plan

To reach your goal, it’s a good idea to create a plan. This means figuring out the steps you need to take. When you make a plan, it’s like making a map to help you get where you want to go. Here are some things to think about:

  • What to do – Think about what you need to do. For example, you might decide to walk for 20 minutes every day.
  • When to do it – Decide when you’ll do these things. Let’s say, you could do your 20-minute walk during your lunch break at work.
  • Where to do it – Find the right place for your actions. In this case, you might choose to walk in a park near your office or home.
  • How to succeed – Plan how you’ll make it happen, think of the ‘what’ and ‘who’. For ‘what’, you could set aside time in your work schedule, add it to your work calendar, and promise to keep that commitment. For ‘who’, think about who can help you succeed. It could be that you tell a work colleague or friend that you are going for a walk.

You can use this information to fill out your own action plan. It’s like a secret map to help you achieve your health goal. You can download our action planner, which is like a special form to help you with your plan. You can even print it out and put it somewhere you’ll see it all the time. This way, it will remind you of your goals and keep you motivated. It’s like having a friendly helper to remind you about the important things you want to do!

If-then plans

When you’re working on your health goal, it’s smart to create if-then plans. These plans help you prepare for any situation that could stop your progress. With if-then plans, you can spot possible setbacks in particular situations and know exactly what to do to overcome them.

The rule to follow is:

If [something happens] then I will [make a plan]

This can make sure nothing stops you from reaching your goal.

For example:

  • If I planned to do my 20 minute walk at 12:30 during my lunch break but someone has put in an important meeting that cannot be moved
  • Then I will immediately allocate an alternative 20 minute slot in my work calendar that day, and make sure that time is marked as busy

Think about the things that might get in your way as you work toward your goal. These could be places, situations, thoughts, or feelings. Then, come up with ideas for how to overcome them

Benefits vs costs

You can help your goal setting by thinking about all the good things (benefits) and not-so-good things (costs) that come with making a change. This can remind you why you wanted to get healthier and keep your final goal in mind. Hopefully, the good things outweigh the not-so-good things.

Imagine you decide to eat healthier. You can expect some good things like having more energy, being better at concentrating, and losing weight. But keep in mind that eating healthy might also mean spending more time cooking fresh food.

Write down the benefits (good things) and costs (not-so-good things) you can think of for the change you want to make. What makes you excited about it, and what might be a bit tricky?

For example:

  • Benefits might be increased energy, increased concentration and weight loss
  • Costs might be increased cooking time to make myself fresh meals

Track your progress

Checking how you’re doing helps you see where you’re doing well and where you can do better. Keeping track of your progress can be really motivating because you can see the good things happening as you go along. It’s like having a diary of your achievements, and that can encourage you to keep going.

Tracking your progress also helps you notice where you can make improvements. It’s like a map showing you the path you’ve taken and where you can make a turn to reach your goal. So, it’s a great tool for figuring out what to change and how to get even better.

Diaries for tracking

Tracking diaries are where you write down or record what you’re doing. It can be very helpful for keeping an eye on how you’re doing when you’re making a change.

Different ways to track

There are lots of ways to keep track of how you’re doing when you want to change something. Here are two ideas:

Think about your goal and write down how you’re doing each week or month, like how much you exercise, how much you drink, or how much fruit you eat each day.

Use a diary to write down what you do every day for a week. This helps you keep an eye on the changes you’re making and to see how your habits are changing over time.

Maintain motivation

When you’re trying to get healthier, it’s normal for your motivation to sometimes go up and down. But there are ways to keep your motivation strong. Here are some tips to help you stay excited about your goal.

Importance to change

Why is it important for you to make these changes? You can write down your reasons right next to your goal, or you could even hang them up in your house where you can see them every day. This way, you’ll have a daily reminder of why you’re working toward your goal.

Think about the following question: On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for you to make a change? From 1 being not important at all, to 10 being very important.

Now, think about or write down why you chose that number and not a smaller one. For example, why did you pick a seven instead of a five? What makes it important to you?

Now, think about what you can do to make that number go up by one. For example, how can you go from a seven to an eight? Is there anything you can do to help it feel even more important to you?

This activity is meant to help you understand why your goal is really important to you. It gets you thinking about the reasons behind your goal.

Celebrate your achievements along the way!

Celebrating your milestones is a fantastic way to stay motivated. When you’re making a change, it’s not just about reaching the big goal; it’s also about the little successes you have along the way. So, as part of your plan, make sure to treat yourself with small rewards when you hit these milestones. For example, you could do something fun you enjoy, like going to the cinema to watch a movie or having a nice meal with a friend. These little celebrations can keep you going, especially when your motivation is starting to fade.

You can create a list to write down some ideas on how you can keep motivated as you reach each small step toward your big goal. What things do you think will keep you going?

For example – My reward might be to go for a coffee with a friend.

Think about the future

Thinking about the future is a fantastic way to keep your motivation high for your health goal. When you imagine where you want to be in the future because of the changes you make today, it can give you a big boost of motivation. It helps you stay on track, especially when things get tough. So, keep your future in mind to stay focused on your goal!

If you make one change today, think about how you might feel in:

  • One week
  • One month
  • One year

For example, if your health goal is linked to doing more exercise, here is how you might feel:

  • In one week, you might be proud of yourself for increasing your activity levels by 10 minutes each day and notice a boost in your mood.
  • In one month, you might have more energy for your preferred activities or hobbies, and feel less stressed.
  • In one year, you might notice longer-lasting improvements to your health, feeling stronger and able to physically do more.

If you don’t make the change today, think about how you might feel in:

  • One week
  • One month
  • One year

This helps you see what could happen if you don’t take those small steps toward your goal.

Take, for example, an exercise-related goal. If you don’t make a change today:

  • In one week, you might feel disappointed and demotivated for not starting your goal.
  • In one month, your health might still be in the same position as it was originally; you might still experience breathlessness, tiredness, and low energy, which you wanted to improve.
  • In one year, your mental and emotional well-being might be affected because you didn’t achieve the positive outcomes you wanted from your goal.

Commit to it

Commitment is a big part of making our health goals a success. When we’re committed, it means we’re responsible for our actions and behaviours, and it helps us stay focused on what’s important to us. There are many ways to demonstrate and record commitment towards and goal:

  • Write it down – When you write down your goal and put it where you can see it every day, like in your kitchen, diary, or calendar, it’s like having a constant reminder of what you want to achieve. This can boost your chances of success.
  • Tell someone about it – When you share your goal with someone and explain how you plan to achieve it, you have someone who can keep you on track, discuss challenges, and celebrate your successes with you. It’s like having a teammate on your health journey!

Avoiding setbacks and problem solviing

Making changes doesn’t always happen easily. Sometimes, things don’t go in a straight line, and problems can pop up. These problems can be different for everyone. But here’s the good news: there’s often a way to overcome these problems, especially if we think about them beforehand and make a plan to solve them. This way, we can tackle problems and keep them from slowing down our progress.

Think about all the things that might stop you from reaching your goal. Then, come up with ideas on how to overcome these obstacles. This way, you’ll be prepared for any challenges that come your way.

Get support

When you’re trying to make a health change, having support is important. This support can come from your friends, family, or local services that are there to help you stay on the right track. Here are some ideas of how they can help:

  • Tell someone you are making a change. Make sure they are someone who will be a positive support and a cheerleader for you.
  • Ask someone to keep you company. For example, going for walks together. Or it could be someone who is making a similar change and you do it together (this could even be ‘virtual’, where you both plan to go for a walk on the same time but you might live in different places.
  • Join an online support group. Make sure it meets your needs and is supportive.
  • Tell people about your success and talk to someone if it doesn’t go to plan.
  • Think if there’s anything practical someone else can do to help, for example give you a lift to a park.

This website is packed with helpful information to guide you in making positive health changes and to ensure you get the support you need.

You can click on the links below to find out more about the people and resources that can provide you with support and advice.

Last reviewed: January 18, 2024 by Kailani

Next review due: July 18, 2024

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