The road to a healthy, long life starts in good every day habits…and the new year offers a great way to aim your goals towards living better and longer.
However, New Year’s Resolutions are not met or kept by will power alone. A new, improved way of approaching resolutions is based on S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound), healthy and motivated daily habits that can last all year and life long.
In the world’s five blue zones: the Italian island of Sardinia; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula and the Greek island of Ikaria; people are keeping daily goals towards longevity.
Here are five steps for creating and keeping your resolutions.
1. Specific Beats Hodgepodge
Vagueness equals defeat. Create purposeful, targeted goals with a specific intention.
For example, pick a diet plan that works. In the blue zones, people eat a plant based diet, eat small portions (eating until 20 percent full) and drink just a little wine daily to increase longevity.
2. Measurable Steps Are Key
Go beyond the resolution and create an achievable plan. Schedule milestones to track progress and outline how you will deal with temptation. There are tons of great, free goal and project planners to help you. Don’t forget to pick out some rewards ahead of time to gift yourself for your successes.
3. Achievable Goals Cross Finish Lines
Be realistic. Goals need to be grounded in positive motivations. Think excitement, curiosity, compassion, gratitude. Small, daily habits are doable. Don’t give up if you fumble; just recommit and restart. People who are living longer aren’t focused on exercise routines, for example. In the blue zones, it’s about staying active. So they plan their days around walking, going on a bike ride, or tending a garden.
4. Relevant To You & Nobody Else
Never say never. Assess your resolution. What resonates with you? Don’t go after trendy resolutions. First, make a list of pros and cons to see if you really want to do this, then use it to help motivate you. It must be important to you, not what others tell you to do.
In one blue zone community, people don’t divide their lives into work and retirement years. Rather, they have a very specific sense of purpose.They might hang out with friends and play Mahjong, learn a new hobby, grow a rose garden, or volunteer for a passion project in the community.
5. Time Bound
Count your progress. Create a schedule or calendar for small markers of success and bigger goals to reach. Share your triumphs and failures with others for support, motivation and as a check to your commitment.
In the blue zones, people stay connected with loved ones and belong to a tribe. Isolation kills, so to increase longevity you need to find good friends that share your beliefs, purpose, healthy lifestyle and commitment to longevity goals.