January may be all about fresh starts and focusing on your goals – but how many of us make a long list of resolutions that don’t last past February?
If becoming a father is on your 2024 wish list, there may be a host of lifestyle changes you want to work towards this year to help improve your chances of conceiving. From quitting smoking to losing weight, you’re more likely to achieve your health goals if you approach them smartly and sustainably.
Here are our top tips for setting – and sticking to – those good habits and important goals.
Make Your Goals SMART
Ok, so the SMART goal framework is usually something HR teams roll out on corporate away days, but there is a lot of valuable stuff in there that can be applied to any goals you may be setting yourself this year!
When talking about goals, SMART stands for:
Specific – Be clear and precise about what you want to achieve
Measurable – Make sure it’s something you can quantify and track
Achievable – Go for stretch goals that you can achieve if you reach outside your comfort zone
Relevant – How will this goal impact you and your life if achieved? Why is it relevant?
Time Bound – Give yourself a deadline to work towards.
So what does that mean for goals relating to your fertility journey? Well, maybe you want to improve your sleep. That’s a pretty broad goal but if we break it down in a SMART way, it looks like this.
Specific – I want to sleep at least 8 hours a night
Measurable – I’ve invested in a fitness tracker that tracks my sleep
Achievable – 8 hours is totally achievable if you just adjust your bedtime time and routine
Relevant – Sleep not only improves your physical and mental health but it can also support your fertility!
Time Bound – Give yourself a month to get a new routine in place!
Make Your Goals Impossible To Ignore
Visualization is a key element of setting and staying focused on goals – in fact, it’s a commonly used technique in professional sports. But what does that mean for you?
It’s really about making it hard for your brain to forget about your goal. If you see a daily reminder of the goal you want to achieve or the life that you are aiming for, your daily habits and decisions will start to become influenced by that reminder. For example, if you want to prioritize getting out in nature more, seeing images of men hiking or walking in beautiful forests will encourage you to get outside, even on days you don’t feel like it.
Making a vision board can be one way to bring your goals to life. Traditionally they are created by ripping inspiring images out of magazines and sticking them to cardboard – and if that’s your thing, go for it! But the more modern take is to create a virtual collage on something like Canva. You can then set it as your lock screen on your phone so it’s something you see every day!
Not feeling creative? Simply writing your goals on a post and sticking it to your mirror so you see it every day can still be a helpful way for you to stay focused!
Share Your Goals With Someone
Now, this is a debated one. Some studies indicate that telling someone about your goals can make you less likely to achieve them, but we believe that opening up may be really helpful – it’s all about who you decide to talk to. Some research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals if we talk about them with someone who we deem as ‘higher status’. This is where having someone like a Personal Trainer, or Fertility Coach – someone you see as an expert in their field – can be really useful.
Sharing your goal with someone can also give you some accountability. If you are trying to quit smoking, telling your friends that that’s your aim for the year and explaining why it’s so important to you will ensure they give you the support you need (rather than leading you astray) and will also mean you are less likely to fall off the wagon, when you know your mates are watching on.
Track and Document Your Progress
As we talked about in the SMART framework, it can be beneficial to have goals that can be measured and tracked. Seeing your efforts rewarded is a great motivator that will help you stick to your goals! Again, weight is a really obvious factor to think of when it comes to tracking but you don’t always need numbers on a scale to document your progress.
If one of your goals this year is to spend more quality time with your partner, why not start a folder on your phone for ‘Date Nights’ and snap a selfie every time you do something fun together? If you’re stopping drinking you could have a pot where you put money in every time you would have to spend it on a beer and watch as your physical bank balance fills up!
Our at-home fertility test is perfect if one of your 2024 goals is to improve your sperm health. You can test regularly from the comfort of home, understand your baseline health, and then see how any lifestyle changes you make have helped to improve your sperm quality every few months!