Planning for a Healthy 2017: Setting Realistic Goals and Expectations

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It is a New Year’s tradition for many to set a resolution or goal to accomplish in the coming year, but the holiday season can sometimes leave people with mixed feelings of relief or disappointment. This year, when we set goals or expectations, let’s consider how we can not just survive, but thrive, in such a fast-paced and complex world.

The first step toward making a change is considering your starting point. Stop and consider where you are, what you’d like to change, and what that change would take. Often it may be unrealistic to “just say no” or to make a sudden lifestyle change, and it’s okay to practice change in moderation. Start off with a plan to make small changes, and build up to your goal instead of expecting yourself to accomplish everything by right away. For example, if your goal is to stop smoking, it’s easier to start by reducing the amount you smoke little by little until you don’t smoke, instead, going cold turkey. Measure your success as you go so you can stay motivated, and be open to adjusting your timeline if a problem arises.

It can help to think about your wellness as a wheel, with all of the different parts of your life making up the spokes. When one part of your life is lacking, the wheel doesn’t turn smoothly. When deciding what goals or expectations you have in this coming year, consider how you can improve your health and wellness. While taking the time to rest and be alone can help you relax, it’s important to balance that with times to connect with others so you don’t become isolated. Even with realistic and attainable goals, you may still experience obstacles and become disheartened, but don’t give up! Find ways to bounce back and look for the good in all situations. To help encourage yourself and others, consider joining the celebration of International Day of Happiness on March 20, 2017, organized by Action for Happiness.

Action for Happiness helps people take action for a happier and more caring world. To learn more, visit

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Kim Hutchinson is an advanced practice clinical nurse specialist specializing in behavioral health and addictions at Cone Health. Kim received her Bachelor of Science in primary care nursing from Fairfield University in 1977 and her Master of Science in nursing in child/adolescent mental health from Lehman College in New York in 1982. She received her doctorate in educational psychology from Northern Illinois University College of Education in 1996. She also received a Master of Science in epidemiology and health services research from Wake Forest University in 2003.