So, it is the end of December. This is usually the time when our New Year’s Resolution list begins. “Be healthier. Lose we
ight. Eat healthy. Sleep more. Read more. Spend more time praying. Read bible. Drink more water.” The list goes on and on, for whatever it was you deem it as something you needed to improve about yourself. You may have done well for a while in some of these areas prior, but fell off the wagon.
Here are three beginning tips for creating goals to set yourself up for the win. These tips can be used in any areas of your life you want to improve, not just health, fitness, and nutrition.
Step one. Be specific & measurable.
The first mistake I see many people making with setting their goals is how broad and undefined they are in their desires. For example, lose weight. This is a perfect example of a very crummy goal. How so? Ummmm. It has nothing to it. You do not specify what or why you want to ditch the poundage AND you have no measurement to the goal. So, Susie lost one pound in the entire year. Check. Goal obtained. Good job Susie, lets celebrate! HA! There is no plan, outline, or guidance to her goal. A better start to this goal would be, “I would like to lose 10 pounds or 10 inches total by ___________.” See the blank at the end. That is the fill in the blank area for Susie. She has defined the amount, which is easily measured. Now, she needs to outline the how. What steps is she going to take to lose the pounds or inches? Go to the gym X days per week or begin logging her food everyday in an easily navigated app? Cutting back her portions and sugary drinks? How is she going to lose the pounds and inches?
Make sure this is something you are willing to do, not what your buddy Layla wants to do. You are the one doing this, so make it something you know you are willing and able to do to accomplish the goal. Once she has decided that, she can move on the the next step of setting her goal.
Step two. Set a time limit.
Here, she can outline how long she is going to take to accomplish this goal. This timeline can be short or long. But it definitely needs to be realistic and attainable. An unrealistic example here would be, ” I want to lose 10 pounds or inches in two weeks by exercising three days per week for 45 minutes and cutting back my desserts.” See the timeline? Ummmmm. Can we pause and realize this is an unhealthy timeline?
When setting your goal, make sure you do a little research of what is a healthy timeline for the goal you are trying to achieve. This helps you set yourself up for the win, avoiding discouragement when you do not achieve your ridiculously strict and harsh goal.
Set a short-term goal and a long-term goal for each change you want to make. Try a month, three month, and six month goal for each category, so you can have some checkpoints throughout the year to compare whether you are actually hitting your goals.
Step three. Put them in front of you and find someone to hold you accountable.
This sounds so simple, it is dumb. But I promise you, it is a common first mistake, on top of the not sitting down to completely outline your goals. Once you have outlined your goals appropriately with much detail, measurable and attainable qualities, and set your time check points, make copies. Put them in front of you. On your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, near your coffee pot, in your planner, on your car dash, on your journal, on your computer. KEEP your eye on the prize by putting them where you can see them. If you write them down in your journal, close the page, and keep on writing, the goal outline is gone. Out of sight, out of mind.
Not only do you keep them in front of you, but you hand them over to someone else. Someone you trust. Someone like-minded, who wants to attain similar life changes. By doing this, you are publicly announcing, “I WANT THIS.” You will feel more compelled to follow through when someone is watching you or with you!! In your corner, fighting for you and with you.
There are many other important aspects of setting goals, but this is a great starting place. Realize where motivation ends, discipline begins. January is a great time to start, but, you will probably have to “start” over quite a few times throughout the year!!! Think about yourself obtaining the goal and the happiness or wholeness it will bring to your life. Think about the why behind the goal? Why would Susie want to lose weight in the first place? Live longer so she can be a better mother and grandmother to her kids? Set an example to her children of what healthy looks like? No matter what the why may be, we will find ourselves out of motivation when life hits us with schedules and speed bumps.
So, take time out, reflect. If you do not take the time to plan and set goals, what makes you think you will take the time to actually do the work?
Your Local Dietitian