It is very natural for people to “bite off more that they can chew” (pardon the nutrition pun), when setting goals. It’s a common fact that the mind consistently underestimates the time it takes to get things done, and envisions faster and grander results than what is actually feasible. Therefore, when you set goals that are unrealistic, you will quickly get discouraged and wind up tossing the resolution out the window by January 2nd.
In the fitness industry, we call properly constructed goals, SMART goals. S=specific, M=measurable, A=attainable, R=realistic, T=timely.
Let’s illustrate this concept through an example. Let’s say that your big picture goal is to lose thirty pounds and lead a healthier lifestyle. That’s an excellent goal, but pretty vague in what this entails…and, sounds pretty daunting already, since there is no plan and no starting point to get there. Right now this is nothing but a dream, and certainly not a goal. Let’s start forming this into a well written goal!
Specific – make an appointment to see a nutritionist to develop a meal plan to eat fit and clean so that I can lose thirty pounds, and fit into size 28 True Religion jeans. What a great start! Already seeing a mental picture and the making of an action plan.
Measureable – how will I know when this is achieved? By seeing a nutritionist, I will get bench mark body composition measurements and an assessment of my current state. During each follow up visit, the nutritionist will take new measurements and plot a progression graph.
Within two weeks, you will start to see your body composition change and start losing weight. You will get extremely excited with how ‘doable’ the goal is! (see “Timely” below on breaking up long term goal into short term milestones).
Attainable – when you write down goals that are important to you, your mindset immediately shifts to “action” mode as you realize what you need to do to get to your goal. Get the goal out of your brain and onto paper! This makes the goal real and leads you to ponder the next steps. Do you need to set an earmark for funds to go see a nutritionist or personal trainer? How can you make room in your calendar to make this commitment? (Block out the time now – see the reality of the goal!) In order to reach a goal, you must make a commitment of resources, be it time or financial, in order to get there. Plan your steps carefully and establish a timeframe to get there.
Realistic – in order for a goal to be realistic, you must decide whether it is something that you are willing and able to do, and commit to it. You want to look like the picture of you when you were thirty pounds lighter, but are you willing to amend your lifestyle and commit to some changes? Decide what makes sense for you. Saying that you will go to the gym six times per week may sounds great right now (remember, our brains never want to co-operate with realities!). But once you get into your hectic schedule, and fail to meet your hefty goal, you’ll get immediately discouraged and quit (your brain will argue and say “ok, I’ll start next week – just one more week”). So three times it is!! Put it in your calendar now! Two days of heavy weight training, one day of cardio. Once you have the satisfaction of accomplishing three days a week, slowly increase the goal to include more days. You may want to add a resolve to go for a brisk walk every day for at least twenty minutes.
Reach for a high goal and surround yourself with positive motivational cues. Perhaps paste a picture of a thinner you on the fridge. Or maybe a cut out of a realistic body image from a magazine? Motivational quotes go a long way! So do affirmations. You CAN do this. It’s just getting the energy to get the ball rolling. Once you believe in yourself, and put the plan into motion, it becomes a passion.
Timely – saying that you want to lose thirty pounds means nothing without a commitment of time. A professional can help you with a realistic timeframe. Now is the perfect time to say that you want to lose thirty pounds by Memorial Day. May sounds like a long time away, but it creeps up fast. But break it up into smaller milestones. Eight pounds by January 31st sounds more motivating, doesn’t it? Two pounds by January 7th sounds pretty cool! What can I do in a week? Can you commit to one week of eating healthy? One week of solid commitment! And you will feel more energy than ever, AND you will lose at least 2 pounds by the end of that week. Don’t you think you will want to do it again, the next week? Small steps are absolutely key!!
Few more tips:
Happy goal setting!! Please feel free to leave comments if you have any questions or need some guidance or motivation to get started!!
AND…let’s all start a health jar! Writing this blog just gave me a cool idea to have a friendly competition. We can check in weekly and have a contest on how much money we all save. And we can share what kind of changes we made which enabled us to put more money in the health jar. Ok…onto my next blog now…the health jar…stay tuned!
Happy New Year!!! And Happy Goal Setting!!!
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