Change is often good, but it is rarely easy.
At least it isn’t easy if we don’t approach it in the right manner. Unfortunately, it feels like we’ve built a practical industry on running headlong into failure with our goals.
With the new year always comes heavy talk of turning over a new leaf, whether it be diet resolutions, weight loss resolutions, or resolutions to stop a bad habit. We’re inundated with advertisements for gyms and stop-smoking aids galore, but we’re also bombarded with messages that, yeah, a lot of this is going to fail.
The saddest part is that those messages aren’t wrong. According to a 2015 article in U.S. News & World Report, about 80 percent of people’s New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. This number likely fluctuates a good amount year to year and person to person, but odds are you have set at least one resolution for yourself over the years that just didn’t happen.
How do we set ourselves up to fail, and what can we do to improve our chances of significant change?
Let’s take a closer look through the lens of one common example: diet resolutions. Why diet? Because it’s an area where almost anyone can make positive changes. And when it comes to your feet (we are a podiatry practice, after all!), your diet can have significant impacts on your foot health over time.
Build a Real Plan
Let’s say your goal is to get over a wall that’s in your way. Which of the following methods is more likely to bring you success?
- Building steps up against the wall and using them to climb over?
- Just running at that sucker full boar and hoping for the best?
Clearly, one answer is better than the other. When we set up a New Year’s resolution, we tend to treat that day as a green flag dropping and we zoom out toward our goal! We just don’t always fully know where we’re going.
If you just say, “I’m going to eat better,” you create a nebulous goal that’s easy to fudge and eventually drop.
A good goal will follow most or all the elements of the SMART setup, meaning it will be:
“I’m going to eat better,” doesn’t fit the SMART criteria. Related goals that fit much better could include:
- “I will only eat out once per week.”
- “I will eat at least one serving of vegetables per day.” (Keep them rich in calcium and vitamin D for bone health!)
- “I will reduce my soda intake 10% each month until July.”
Be Flexible to Your Expectations and Reality
The “Achievable” part of a SMART goal deserves some extra emphasis. The change you wish to make has to be something that you know you can actually do. Otherwise, you’re simply trying to surmount a wall that’s too high.
If you want to cut down on sweets, for example (which is great for your feet for long-term nerve health), cutting them out of your diet entirely on day one is likely going to feel miserable. Odds are higher that you’ll be back to old sugar habits within a few weeks.
A plan that involves gradual steps toward your overall goal is nothing to be ashamed of, and is much more adaptable to our human natures. Better to take a bit longer to reach your destination than to never reach it at all!
Small steps should still provide some challenge to make them rewarding. As you achieve these steps, you should gain further confidence in your abilities to reach your end results!
However, if you find yourself starting to flounder or feel you may have bitten off more than you can chew, don’t be afraid to revise your goals a bit and forge ahead.
Just make sure you’re not constantly adjusting your goals downward—that’s more like taking gradual steps toward quitting.
Don’t Go It Alone
Many well-intentioned resolutions die with a whimper in the dark, with only the one who made it ever knowing it had existed.
Shedding light on your goals by telling your friends and family will make them feel much more real. Not only that, it recruits them as supporters and accountability partners!
When your goal is diet based, having someone who is willing to go so far as to pursue it with you is an outstanding boon! Healthy dietary changes tend to be healthy for everyone, so they tend to be easier for a wider variety of people to pursue than other goals.
Do be cautious on who you share you goals with, however. While people can be positive, some can be rather unsupportive. You likely have a good idea of who these people may be in your life, and it’s better not to have them drag you down.
The Best Goals, The Best Rewards
You should certainly reward yourself with something nice when you achieve a milestone. Food is obviously not a good choice for a diet goal, but you can always take a day at the spa or buy that nice item you’ve been wanting instead.
When it comes to your foot health (and your overall well-being!), the choices you make can help you reach a much more comfortable and less troublesome future. It’s not instant gratification, but it’s well worth it nonetheless!
If you have conditions such as arthritis, nerve pain, or even some forms of heel pain, you might be surprised how much changes in diet can help. We can assist you in determining the best diet resolutions for comfort and lasting care, as well as recommend additional plans (such as exercise) and treatments to take care of your foot and ankle issues. Call our Berkley office at (510) 647-3744 to schedule an appointment, or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.