We all know that we want to make positive changes to better our health and wellbeing. For some, that means getting stronger. Others want to bring more joy and gratitude in their lives. Many want to look and feel better. If your head is already spinning, you’re not alone!
As a Patient Navigator at NPF’s Patient Navigation Center, I help people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis set new health goals every day. Here are three simple steps to help you set your personal health goals for 2017:
1) Be reflective.
The first step to setting your personal health goals requires you to look back at the past year. Ask yourself, what went well in 2016? What could have gone better? This simple, yet helpful exercise allows you to evaluate your new skills and successes and identify where there’s room for improvement.
For example, this past year, I climbed Mount St. Helens with two friends. Our first summit was met with a whiteout and dangerous conditions. After we returned safely to solid ground, we reevaluated everything in our control, including our gear and the time of our climb. By being even more prepared, we were able to conquer the summit a few weeks later.
As you tackle this exercise, set aside some time to really think through 2016. Journal things that come to mind and take notes. I encourage the people I work with to do this for as long as they need. For some, it takes a day or two. For others, it takes up to a week. After a clear assessment, you’ll not only be able to recognize what brought you joy, but also some areas that need improvement.
2) Express gratitude.
After you’ve reflected on 2016, take some time to express gratitude. What were you thankful for over the past year?
Once you look at all the things 2016 had to offer, it’s time to evaluate what you could’ve changed to make the year go even smoother. For example, maybe last year you set out to lose 50 pounds for a vacation. Perhaps you only lost 20 pounds. Instead of dwelling on the fact that you were 30 pounds shy of your goal, reflect on how you feel 20 pounds lighter. What are some things you can do now that you were unable to do before?
Now ask yourself, are there habits I could have changed to be more successful? Why did you stop going to the gym? What will it take to get you back? Should you take a new class? Finding a workout buddy? Hiring a personal trainer? What about leaving the gym and finding another physical activity you enjoy doing? By shifting into a positive mindset, you can reflect on what makes you happy in order to set and drive your goal.
3) Set your goals.
Now that you’ve reflected on the past year, you can begin to set your goals. Remember, when thinking through your goals, strive for quality over quantity. Setting five goals is not necessarily better than setting two. We want to make our goals meaningful and achievable and avoid vague and broad ambitions.
Most importantly, be realistic with yourself. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, time or financial constraints and other potential barriers to success. For example, as I set my own health goals for 2017, I’ve had to look at competing priorities and re-evaluate plans. Ever since moving to Portland, I’ve wanted to hike Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak.
But after doing my own self-evaluation, I’ve decided that my plan to climb Mount Hood would be better moved to 2018. Instead, I want to focus on my Olympic lifts (with specific weights in mind), maintain my Sunday yoga practice, hike once every other weekend (being mindful of my school schedule) and maintain my 4.0 average in graduate school.
Finally, remember to seek support. Share your goals on social media or with a close family member or friend. An even better option is to find someone who shares similar goals so you can motivate each other to stay on track.
If you want personalized help setting your health goals, get in touch with our team at the Patient Navigation Center. Throughout the month of January, we’re offering free goal-setting sessions to help you build a plan for a healthy 2017. We'll work with you to set measurable goals, create a custom action plan and track your progress. You can sign up for a free session, text 503-410-7766 or call 1-800-723-9166, option 1 to talk to a navigator.
Amy Kurtz, B.A., B.S., CI-CPT is a certified health coach and Patient Navigator at NPF’s Patient Navigation Center, the world’s first personalized support center for psoriatic disease. With an extensive background in fitness and nutrition, she helps people living with psoriatic disease in the areas of diet, exercise, stress management and natural remedies.