Setting goals can help you make healthy lifestyle changes. Whether it's walking more, spending less time on screens or trying different foods – changing our behaviour involves learning something. Having a goal can give you something to work towards, help you to stay motivated and keep you on track. Find out more about different types of goals and how to set them via
Dr Marlee King from Western Sydney University shares her expert tips on ways to create new habits and break old ones.
A good way to keep goals achievable is by making them small, simple and realistic. For example, if you want to eat more healthily you could set a goal to eat one more serve of vegetables per day. Once you have achieved this, you could try building on it over time, like adding more serves or trying new vegetables. For easy goal setting ideas check out these
small steps to get you started.
Think about practical steps you can take to make it easier to change your behaviour and meet your goals. For example, if your aim is to drink more water every day, having a water bottle nearby can help remind you of this goal. If you want to reduce screen time, you could try to keep your phone in a separate room, in a drawer or in your bag throughout the day to reduce your use of it. You could also try putting it on silent or switching off notifications, so it doesn’t distract you.
Habits are formed when you repeat a behaviour over and over again because this repetition can eventually help make those decisions easier. Remember, it often takes some time before a new healthy habit is formed so be patient with yourself.
For example, if you want to make
physical activity a daily habit, you could start by setting a goal of walking five extra minutes every day. This could be achieved by adding a walk up and down your street before or after work, taking the stairs instead of the lift, or getting off the bus or train one stop earlier. As you begin to repeat this small behaviour daily, over time it will slowly become a habit and part of your routine. You may eventually want to increase this to walking an extra 10 or 15 minutes a day.
Here are some tips to help you achieve the goals you set:
Whether it's in a diary, a message on the fridge or on post-it notes, writing down your goals can help remind you to stick to these.
Be kind to yourself. If your goal is not working for you, try changing it to make it more achievable.
Remember to set practical and achievable health goals and then build on these once they have become part of your daily routine. Try to make sure your goals follow the SMART system – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Learn more on SMART goal setting at healthdirect.
Setting a specific time for you to work towards your goal is a good way to help create new habits. You could set an alarm in your phone, combine it with a task you complete every day like brushing your teeth or put it in your diary every day or once a week.
Most importantly, don't forget to recognise and celebrate your wins to motivate you to keep going! Watch our little wins count video below.
Find out more about our
free programs and tools to help you form new healthy habits.
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