Developing a Health Plan for the New Year

As 2024 kicks off, you may be thinking about ways to improve your habits, whether it’s drinking more water, exercising more often, or reducing your stress with a gratitude journal or self-care routine. 

To achieve these individual resolutions and make the most of your efforts, consider developing a health plan for the new year. 

Your health plan should focus on your goals and include:

  • How you want to achieve your goals
  • Why you want to achieve them
  • What challenges you may face
  • How you will overcome those challenges

To start, create a health vision. Develop a broad statement that encompasses what you want for your future. Think about what healthy means to you and then convert it into a clear and concise statement. Consider the format: “I want _________, so _________.” To inspire you, consider the examples below:

  • I want to be in better shape, so I can keep up with my kids.
  • I want more work-life balance, so I can spend quality time with my family and friends.
  • I want to lose weight, so I have more energy.
  • I want to become a better runner, so I can complete a half-marathon.

Two more important factors in your health plan are determining your goals and motivators. 

It’s no secret that goals help you stay focused – and play a vital role in your motivators (more on that below)! With this thought in mind, it’s important that your goals are realistic. SMART goals are specific (what am I going to do?), measurable (how will I track my progress?), achievable (what steps will I take to make this goal happen?), relevant (is this goal important to me?), and time-framed (when will I achieve it?). 

As you develop your goals, create a list of short-term goals and long-term goals. Better yet, connect the two! If a long-term goal is to run a half-marathon, include the following two short-term goals: adopt a running schedule and run three local races.

What drives you to work hard and make these desired changes? Common motivators may be reducing your blood pressure or cholesterol level, buying clothes in a smaller size, or watching your grandchildren grow up. To keep these motivators top of mind, write them on Post-It notes and stick them around your house. You can also incorporate them into your goals – something like, “Exercise 30 minutes each day and reduce blood pressure medication at my annual appointment in June.”

Your goals and motivators are particularly important when you face challenges — which will inevitably happen during your journey! 

Whether it’s a busy work schedule, commitments at your children’s school, or pressure to stick with a bad habit, your determination will be put to the test. Identify what challenges you are most likely to face and map out strategies to address them. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Create a strong support system by letting your partner, kids, extended family members, and friends know about your health plan. On days when you’re feeling discouraged, ask someone to join you for a neighborhood walk or as you cook dinner. It may be helpful to journal about your successes and your struggles too. You can look back at your progress and adjust your goals and plan as needed. 

By creating a health plan, you’ve taken the first step into a better future. Happy New Year!

Contact Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care with all your healthcare needs. Come visit us at 2071 Dundee Drive in Winter Park.