If you want a better life this year, you need to create goals.
New Year’s resolutions won’t cut it — you’ll forget them by the first of February like the rest of us.
Let’s say you’d like to lose some weight this year. Wouldn’t we all?
But that’s just an idea. It’s not a goal until you say something like: “I will lose 12 pounds in the next 12 months.”
The experts call this a S.M.A.R.T. goal, which has five parts:
- Specific: You aim to lose 12 pounds, not “drop a few pounds.”
- Measurable: Weight can be tracked on a scale so you can see how well you’re doing.
- Achievable: If you’ve lost 10 pounds before, it’s reasonable to expect you can lose 12.
- Results-focused: You’re aiming for an outcome, not focusing on activities.
- Time-bound: You’re giving yourself 12 months to make good on it.
This is precisely how corporate CEOs, politicians, movie stars, and pro athletes set goals. There’s no reason why you can’t do it as well.
So, here are five S.M.A.R.T. goals you might want to tackle this year:
1. Eat vegetables twice a day, every day
Veggies (and fruits) come packed with nutrients and fiber, which keep you healthy. Start looking for ways to get more vegetables into your meals. You can also buy frozen vegetables that heat up quickly in the microwave.
Here’s a quick, super-simple veggie recipe:
- Cut up some fresh broccoli and put it in a bowl. Next up, mix in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. You might chop up a clove of garlic and throw it in there, too.
- Toss it on a pan, and roast it in the oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. Bam. Done.
You can’t go wrong getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
2. Get eight hours of sleep at least five nights a week
We get it. You have to let loose and turn up on the weekends (we do, too). But getting eight hours of sleep as often as possible is one of the best things you can do for your health.
You can’t fix a car while it’s driving down the road. It has to be parked and resting. Your body is the same way: It needs you to be asleep so it can fix a day’s worth of damage. Get your Zs. You’ve earned ‘em.
3. Take your meds — every dose, every day
OK, you’ve heard that a gazillion times. But the thing about HIV is that it’s always looking for another chance to infect your bloodstream (and infect your partners if you’re not careful).
Don’t give HIV a single chance. It’s just a virus; it doesn’t have any rights.
And hey — not in care yet? Make it your goal for 2018 to get into care and rock your treatment plan. You got this!
4. Get your finances together
It’s uncanny how a financial cushion helps people sleep better and reduce daily drama. Here are four S.M.A.R.T.ways you can start working on your finances.
- Start a savings account and consider setting $x from each paycheck into it. Even if you have only a few bucks to set aside, a savings account is crucial to a better future.
- Set a budget. Figure out how much you can afford to spend every month and stick to it.
- Track your spending. Most banks do this online for you. You might make it your goal to review this weekly.
- Find a way to make more money. Look for a better-paying job, add a part-time job, or start a side hustle. And consider keeping it legal: Anything that gets courts or cops involved will snatch up your hard-earned cash.
Stay tuned — we’ll have another blog on finances coming up soon.
5. Exercise for a half-hour per day, five days a week
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Go for a walk, take up yoga, start jogging, or work things out on a punching bag.
When you get your blood pumping and work up a sweat, your body releases hormones that improve your mood. You also reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and a bunch more health issues you don’t need. And the healthier you are, the better your HIV meds do their job.
How to hold yourself accountable
You’ll probably need help making sure you meet your goals. Try these tips:
- Track your progress. Write it down every week and keep checking back.
- Get a partner. Have a friend join you and start a healthy competition.
- Find free activities. Combine your money-saving goal with your other goals. Take a free hike instead of paying for sessions at the gym.
Achieving your goals gives you a taste of victory and naturally makes you want more. You have a whole year ahead of you to get it done. Why not start now?