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A Guide to Goal-Setting

Personalized Progress

Resolutions are pesky things – we struggle to keep them, but we aren’t ready to quit them. Here, we chat with Dr. Shayla Toombs-Withers, founder of Essence of Health Wellness Clinic, for some insight and tips about setting goals that stick.   

SMART Goals

S

Specific

M

Measurable

A

Achievable

R

Realistic

T

Timely

1. Find Your “Why”

It comes as no surprise that some of the most common New Year’s resolutions relate to improving some aspect of physical or mental health.  Perhaps you’d like to try a new fitness program, learn to cook, or spend more time developing friendships. Whatever the case, it’s crucial to understand the motivation behind a goal. Health coach Dr. Toombs-Withers says, “First ask yourself, ‘Why is achieving this goal important to me? What will happen if I don’t achieve this goal? What will happen if I do?’’’ Putting these thoughts into words helps solidify your intentions so you can continue to work towards your goal even if it becomes challenging.

2. Personalize Your Plan

If you’re not sure where to begin, remember that self-improvement looks different for everyone. Oftentimes, we think of “health” as a particular lifestyle, diet, and body size, and we get discouraged when our efforts don’t produce this result. 

illustration of woman feeling accomplished with her goals

But Dr. Toombs-Withers reminds us the most effective goals are personalized to our unique needs. “I often remind individuals that we were not all meant to be the same size,” she says, “Instead, the goal should be living a healthful life, feeling your best, being able to enjoy what life has to offer, and not feeling burdened by illness and disease.” With that in mind, be curious and find what works for you!

3. Find a Support System

As you plan to reach your goal, consider who you’ll turn to for support. “A support system can include family members, friends, online groups, coworkers, and groups with similar interests,” says Dr. Toombs-Withers. By surrounding yourself with other like-minded individuals, you can contribute to a community with ongoing encouragement and inspiration. Even if you don’t immediately have access to a community like this, don’t be afraid to seek it out. Chances are, someone else is looking for the same support system as you. “If you’re feeling shy, you don’t have to talk to others initially,” Dr. Toombs-Withers says, “Just seeing others achieving goals can be helpful for you too.”

4. Reevaluate and Revise

Once you’ve started reaching towards your goal, examine your daily habits and decide if they can help you or hinder you in this process. Dr. Toombs-Withers shares that creating a plan you’ll stick to involves considering various factors, including nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress management. Increased exercise, for example, can improve your quality of sleep, or going for a walk with a friend can strengthen your emotional well-being. Revise your plan as necessary, keeping in mind how improving one area of your life can often invite change into another. “Remember,” Dr. Toombs-Withers encourages, “progress is more important than perfection.”

Shayla Toombs-Withers, DO

Shayla Toombs-Withers, DO

Essence of Health Wellness Clinic

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