My 2024 Blueprint To Become the Healthiest Version of Myself

Dedicating one full year to mental and physical health.

Irtiza Hafiz
5 min readJan 19, 2024
Photo by Luna Lovegood

At New Year’s every year, I make the same mistake.

I make a list of 10 things I want to achieve by the end of the year, without any sense of prioritization.

When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

The result? I end up finishing 3–4 of the 10 things, but nothing significant enough to move the needle too much or become satisfying enough.

Without a few clear priorities, my precious time, effort, and energy get diluted across too many unrelated things.

In 2024, I plan on doing things differently. After some pondering, I have settled for one primary focus and two secondary focuses.

There will be no compromises with the primary focus.

My primary focus in 2024 will be my physical and mental health.

In this blog post, I will walk you through where the motivation comes from, what some of my tangible goals are, and how I plan to achieve them.

The Motivation

Passing away and health problems of old relatives

Unfortunately, 2023 was filled with some of my closest relatives becoming sick or worse, passing away.

My youngest uncle was diagnosed with kidney failure. It only took a few weeks for his body to change drastically, painfully weakening day by day through Dialysis. Eventually, his blood pressure shot up to levels where his frail body couldn’t handle it any longer. He passed away in front of my parents.

Similarly, my only paternal aunt also developed kidney issues and started doing Dialysis. In a matter of a few months, she went from being the energy of the room to someone who could barely say a few words or lift a finger.

Both these events reminded me how frail human life is. It can change in a heartbeat.

You have only one mind and one body for the rest of your life. If you aren’t taking care of them when you are young, it’s like leaving that car out in hailstorms and letting rust eat away at it.

Deteriorating Cardiovascular Health

I am proud to say that my Dad, for close to 40 years of his life, served in the Bangladesh Army.

I grew up watching him take on some of the most physically demanding training and exercises. He also supplemented that with a good diet to extract the best performance out of his body.

Now, at 60 years old, I still see him go regularly on morning and afternoon walks.

However, I also see him getting physically weaker every day. His legs start to ache after short walks, he gets exhausted after running a few flights of stairs.

Yet, I can proudly say that he’s one of the fittest 60-year-olds that I know of.

I mentioned my dad because after living a full life dedicated to health and fitness, he’s starting to develop problems. What will happen to me?

Where he was spending his 20s running a few hundred miles every year, I am spending my 20s slouched at my computer desk. Where he was eating mindfully to fuel his body, I binge eat the unhealthiest foods, whenever I am stressed.

At this rate, his 60-years-old will be my 30-years-old…unless I make some drastic lifestyle changes.

Become my Best Version

There’s no doubt that whenever I search for the period of my life when I was at my best, it coincides with periods when I weighed the least, had the most muscle, and was living some of my most confident and ambitious days.

Whenever I take care of my body and mind, I am at my best in all parts of life.

Someone once told me the definition of Hell: the person you became will meet the person you could have become.

So the equation is simple — by getting back to my physical and mental best, I become better at most things in life.

The Goals

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score — Bill Copeland

It’s great to have these motivations, but without some goals to act as checkpoints, and a system behind achieving them, motivation means nothing.

There are a few things you need to know about how I broke down my goals:

  • Physical vs Mental Health
  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) vs non-SMART

To denote each of the goals to the above categories, I will use the following emojis:

  • SMART — 🔢
  • non-SMART — 🌈

Physical Health

So, here are my 2024 goals to improve my physical health.

  • 🔢 Complete the 5K running challenge
  • 🔢 Improve VO2 Max to ~50
  • 🔢 Body fat below 12%
  • 🔢 >80% gym check-ins every month
  • 🔢 >85% pescatarian diet every month
  • 🌈 Grow muscles through a strict strength training routine
  • 🌈 Learn boxing or kickboxing

My goal is to convert the non-SMART goals into SMART ones after doing some thorough research and experimenting.

Mental Health

Similarly, here are my 2024 goals to improve my mental health.

  • 🌈 Live with intention (limited screen time, limited YouTube consumption, less multitasking)
  • 🔢 As a Muslim, pray 5 times a day
  • 🔢 Read Quran’s English translation
  • 🔢 Read 4 books on spirituality and intentional living

To improve my mental health, I am taking a more spiritual approach.

After some deep introspections, I realized that some of the calmest times of my life have been my most spiritual ones. So, it made sense for me to lean more into that.

If you are taking inspiration from this blog post and you are not religious, you can replace most of these with some form of meditation.

Systems and Routines

You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. — James Clear

A goal is impossible to achieve without a set of routines and strong discipline to enforce it.

I am starting the year off with these routines and systems:

  1. Start mornings early with prayers and reading the Quran
  2. Easy, repeatable gym routine with a combination of cardio and strength training
  3. Have a post-workout smoothie every morning
  4. Prioritize home-cooked pescatarian meals over going out to eat
  5. A daily 30-minute walk through nature
  6. No multitasking, fewer stimulations (less audio or visual background stimulations)
  7. Break apart the day with 5 prayers to regain focus and purpose

Closing Thoughts

I am selfishly sharing this with you folks for two purposes — to hold myself accountable and to make a public promise.

At the end of 2024, there’s a strong possibility that I won’t be able to achieve some of these.

However, as long as I end the year at my physical and mental best, I will have no complaints.

If you have read it so far, thank you so much! I challenge you to reply below with some of your own 2024 goals so that we can all hold each other accountable.

--

--

Irtiza Hafiz

https://irtizahafiz.com Engineering manager who writes about software development and productivity.