How To Set Health Goals That Work

By Dr. Yvette Lu.

25% of people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions after one week.
36% give up after one month.
By six months, only 46% of people are still working on their New Year’s Resolutions.
Clearly, we have a problem!

The leading causes of death in Canada are heart disease, stroke, and cancer, particularly lung cancer. You can prevent and reduce your risk for these diseases by making lifestyle changes. It’s easy to say you’re going to change, but how to set a goal that will actually work to help you achieve lasting change?

Check out our chat on how to set goals that work. Let’s troubleshoot those New Year’s Resolutions!




Two additional troubleshooting points that we didn’t have a chance to cover in the video:

  • Make sure your goal is something you actually want to do.
    • If you’re having trouble with your health goals, it may be because you’re not ready to make change. It’s very hard to make change if you’re not ready and motivated. Perhaps you’ve only set the goal because somebody else is pressuring you! Go back and look at your goal, and ask yourself, what would I like to change about my life. You are more likely to be successful at your resolution if you truly want to achieve it and are motivated internally.
  • Get help.
    • If you find that you’re still not able to achieve your goal, then you want to go and talk to your doctor and get help. A lot of habits like smoking and overeating are self reinforcing. Our brain gets a chemical reward when we do those activities, so it makes it hard to quit. For example, when we overeat or eat sugary foods, our bodies release endorphins, chemicals which make us feel happy. Your doctor can help with behavioural strategies, and in some cases medications. There are some medications that are available to help reduce cravings, especially for smokers. Some people may also have an underlying disease like depression or anxiety that may be causing them to smoke, overeat, or drink too much alcohol. It’s important to treat the underlying illness, as those habits will be very tough to break without treating the underlying problem that’s causing those behaviours.


Troubleshooting summary for setting health goals:

  1. Set specific goals.
  2. Make sure your goal is achievable.
  3. Don’t exhaust your willpower by working on too many goals at once.
  4. Make sure your goal is internally motivated.
  5. Get help!


Now, go out there and set yourself some goals! Good luck!

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