I love setting goals. I’m big on to-do lists, New Year’s resolutions, and basically anything I can write down and then check off as complete. And I also love a good wellness challenge. I’ve set many wellness goals at different points in my life. Some I achieved, some I failed at, and many I simply forgot about over time.
Even though not every wellness goal stuck around for the long term, I still love making them. However, since becoming a mom, it has become extra challenging to stick to whatever goals I set. There are simply more obstacles in the way, like trying to balance motherhood, work, and family; or the fact that my body doesn’t respond to workouts like it used to.
Sure, this frustrates me, but I try to view it as a learning experience. I’ve realized that since becoming a mom, my view of wellness has changed, and my goals and plans need to change to match my new lifestyle.
Since becoming a mom, my view of wellness has changed, and my goals and plans need to change to match my new lifestyle.
As a health coach and personal trainer, part of my job is working with clients to help them identify their goals and define ways to reach them. The basic guidelines of goal setting follow the S.M.A.R.T method, which stands for making your goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. I agree with this method, but I also think there are other steps we should consider when setting goals. And these other elements are particularly relevant when it comes to mothers and parents because our time simply isn’t our own. And sometimes even our bodies feel like they aren’t our own.
If you’re craving new wellness practices in your life and don’t know where to start, here are five tips to help you create attainable goals.
1. Meet yourself where you are
If you’re a mom reading this, your body has probably been through a lot. This might mean pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery from said childbirth. Or maybe you’re a mom through adoption or surrogacy—your body still goes through a lot (toting around a growing toddler and crawling on the ground for play are actually quite rough on the body!). Whatever it may be, whether it’s carrying a child in your stomach, in your arms, or simply the changes our body goes through with age, acknowledge that you aren’t the same person you were 5 or 10 years ago.
The basic guidelines of goal setting follow the S.M.A.R.T method, which stands for making your goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
A lot of times we can get hung up on the way we used to be, the way our body used to look, or the weight we were in college. And I’m here to say, you’re not that person anymore. And that’s a good thing, you’ve grown into a new and more evolved person. Realize who you are today and set your goals for today you, not ten years ago you.
2. Start small
We might have grand wellness plans, like get eight hours of sleep each night, consume 10 servings of vegetables a day, and meditate each morning. It’s amazing to set big goals, but remember small goals add up over time, and one small positive change tends to lead to another. If you have big goals, break them down into smaller and more attainable goals. By starting small, say drink 100 ounces of water a day, you’ll feel good about your accomplishment and will be compelled to keep going.
It can be particularly frustrating as a busy mom to set big goals that simply don’t fit into your current lifestyle. That’s why it’s important to be realistic and to start small, giving yourself the space to grow.
3. View wellness as a whole
If you asked me 10 years ago to share my personal view of wellness, I probably would have told you it was eating 1,200 calories a day and having toned muscles; cue the cringe. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot about health and wellness since then, and view wellness in a much more balanced and realistic way. Wellness can have its own meaning for each person, so it’s important to think about what wellness means to you. This could mean keeping your phone away during time with your family, sticking to an early bedtime, or reading instead of watching TV. It isn’t just diet and exercise.
Wellness can have its own meaning for each person, so it’s important to think about what wellness means to you. It isn’t just diet and exercise.
As parents, our children look to us to set an example. This can be a great motivating factor to define wellness in a certain way for your family. Take the necessary steps to achieve this definition of wellness (it won’t always be perfect though!) and encourage your family members to explore wellness with you.
4. Work with what you have
There are a lot of excuses to let wellness practices slip away. The excuses might be valid, like being busy, not having certain equipment, being too tired, and so on. I’m not telling you these issues aren’t real, because they certainly can be. However, if creating and reaching wellness goals is important to you, you need to make it work with what you have.
With creative thinking, you’d be surprised just how productive you can be in achieving your goals. Figure out what is most important to you and how you’re going to make it happen. Maybe it means investing in new workout equipment, or maybe it means finding equipment-free workouts on YouTube. Identify what’s standing in your way and come up with practical tactics within your means to make your goals happen.
5. Give yourself grace
Though I just said you need to push past excuses, I also want to point out that you absolutely need to give yourself grace. No one is perfect and particularly right now, people (especially mothers!) are under a lot of stress. It’s important to create wellness practices in your life to help deal with the stress, allowing you to feel your best and be the most present for your family. But it’s not a game of perfection.
Wellness is a vague term, so at no point should you ever feel like you’re failing. It’s an ongoing practice to be your best self. Some days, some weeks, and maybe even some months are not going to be your best. That’s OK, and that’s normal. Give yourself the grace to have your off days and know that you are still doing great.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated for timeliness.