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  • Joy Stevens, ND

It’s New Year’s Resolution Time!

What are your goals for the next year? What objectives do you wish to achieve?

Choosing goals is the easy part.

- "I want to lose weight."

- "I want to exercise more."

- "I want to eat better."

But we will need to dig a bit deeper. Along with thinking about what your goals may be, you have to ask yourself, "What kind of pain am I willing to endure?" “What sacrifices am I willing to accept in order to reach my goals?” Goal setting is about both the rewards you want to achieve and the cost you are willing to pay in order reach those rewards.


We all have goals. Sometimes we have too many goals and they compete with one another. The trick in goal setting is to choose only those goals you really want to see come true, those you are willing to put the focus and energy into achieving, those you are willing to suffer a bit of pain in order to obtain. Put all the others aside. If they are important to you, you can come back to them later, but for now pick the goals for which you are willing to sacrifice.

Write down your top 20 goals for this year. Unlike the three goals I listed above, these 20 goals need to be:

SPECIFIC: What exactly do you want to achieve?

MEASURABLE: When will you know that you have achieved your goal?

ATTAINABLE: Is it within your capabilities and not so difficult that you can't achieve it?

RELEVANT: Is it worth the cost and resources required? Is this the right time to be doing it?

TIME BOUND: Have a deadline. Don't leave it open ended.

I will use one of my goals as an example: "I want to downhill ski this season."

My ski nickname used to be "reckless abandon” – over 30 years ago. I have missed skiing but figured with my whacked back, those days were permanently behind me. Now that my back is getting better, I want to give it a try again.

My goal is:


MEASURABLE: Either I do or I don't.

ATTAINABLE: My back seems healthy enough to at least give it a try.

RELEVANT: This is part of my overall intention to continue working on my health so it is relevant and I am willing to pay the price in time, energy and money to do so.

TIME BOUND: This ski season.

Go ahead, write down your top 20 goals before reading any further. Seriously. Write them down now.

Got the list written?

Circle the top 5 goals you want to achieve. Yep, narrow it down to 5. These are the first goals you are going to work on this year. What about the other 15? Those are the goals you are going to completely ignore until you achieve your top goals. Don't worry about them, don't think about them, and certainly don't put any effort into them. They will only distract you and take time and energy away from your top 5 goals. As you reach a goal, you can move one of these into the top 5, but not until then.


For each of your 5 goals, write down how you plan to achieve them. Without a plan, your goals are just a wish. Creating the plan increases the likelihood of achieving your goals by 2 to 3 times so don’t skip this step!





As you create your plan, think of your pain point. Don't make your plan so easy that there is no pain, but don't make it so difficult that you will burnout and give up. Find the sweet spot somewhere between the two.

I actually set my ski goal a couple months ago. I know how I am and that I will want to go for it. No bunny slopes for me! Because safety of my back is a top concern, I knew I first had to get my body stronger. This has been my plan:

HOW: Work out with personal trainer to improve strength, conditioning, and balance.

WHEN: 3 times per week.

WHERE: Gym near my office.

As you create your plan, if you can tie it to something you already habitually do, even better. This helps to nail down when and where you will work on your goal.

For example, if daily dry skin brushing is your goal, then your goal can read "Before I take my shower in the morning, I will dry skin brush." You’re already going to shower, so adding this task to it makes it seem easy.

If you’re wondering what dry skin brushing is, we'll get to that in week four.


Your environment can be the difference between achieving your goals or failure.

Want to lose weight? It’s going to be pretty tough to do with a kitchen full of processed food and not a fresh veggie in sight.

Want to start working out? Create a schedule and put it on your calendar. Better yet, sign up for classes ahead of time and calendar those. You’re less likely to skip if you do so.

Want to increase hydration? Buy a stainless steel water bottle, calculate how many times you need to empty it each day to meet your hydration goals, and carry it everywhere with you.

Want to eat better but don’t like cooking? Order from a meal delivery service like Blue Apron or Home Chef.

Surround yourself with visual clues. A bowl of fresh apples on the counter can remind you to snack healthier. Leave your workout gear at the door so you don’t forget to take it.

Whatever your goal, part of your plan is to create an environment that supports that goal. This includes talking with family, friends and co-workers about your goals and plans and helping them to understand how they can help you, or at least not hinder you, in your journey to success.


Evidence of success is hugely motivating! Who doesn’t like to see progress made?

I’m a list maker. When I have a lot going on, I will create a task list so I don’t forget anything. There are invariably things I end up doing that were not on the original list but needed to get done nonetheless. I know I am not alone in adding those things to the list just to have the satisfaction of crossing them off.

Same for working towards your goals. Track your progress. Take photos. Keep notes. It’s not about the result as much as it is about making sure you are spending time and effort on the things you said were important to you, spending time on your goals.

Bottom line, follow these suggestions and there is no reason you can’t achieve your goals.


Learn more about changing habits at

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