Here’s the obligatory blog about how to set achievable New Year goals. But this one is different; promise. This is less about learning what the acronym SMART means and more about self-reflection and the importance of values in your life. Once you have some clarity on how you’ve operated in the past you can begin to look at your current situation and plan out goals for the future.
For the rest of this article, I’m going to use the goal “Lose 30 pounds in 6 months” as my example. Let’s dive in…
Reframe your thoughts
How we frame our thoughts determines how we act on those thoughts. When something becomes a necessity, we are compelled to act on it. For example, one can say “I would LIKE to lose 30 pounds because I would be able to fit in my favorite pair of jeans that I haven’t been able to fit in since I had my daughter.” A statement like this is heavily dependent on motivation. And we all know that motivation is not infinite. You’ll at some point lose it. But what if you started to think more about the value of losing 30 pounds. Once you value WHY you are doing something, the ability to act on it becomes more of a necessity. So now that previous statement might look something like this; “ I need to lose 30 pounds because my blood work shows I have high glucose levels and I’m hypertensive. I don’t want to go on medication and I want to be able to run after my daughter on the playground.” I’m not saying that fitting into your old jeans is not valuable, but dig a little deeper to really find the value. We all have different standards for our values, brainstorm yours!
Think about your goal and answer the following:
- What are the 3 reasons why this goal is a NECESSITY to me?
Learn from the past to advance in the future
Have you tried to reach a similar goal in the past? Were you successful in the long-term or just the short term? Maybe the goal wasn’t attained. If you didn’t achieve it, you need to reflect back on the things you did or didn’t do to help you.
For example, if you tried to lose 30 pounds in the past by reducing your soda intake, what exactly did you do to cut back? Often times people will just say, “I’ll drink more water.” Unless you have an actual plan in place to drink more water, you’ll always deflect back to your vise (i.e. soda). You’ll find a way; stop at a gas station on the way home, go to the vending machine, say that you forgot your water bottle etc… What kind of excuses came up in the past? Now is the most important part; what will you do to prevent that from happening again?
Take a moment and answer these questions?
- Why was I successful/unsuccessful at attaining that goal?
- What measures do I need to take to allow me to be successful in the future? (Big secret, the answer involves PLANNING!!)
Circle of Influence or Destruction?
Now that you have a deeper understanding on why you need to reach your goal, you must determine who will help you and who will inhibit you from achieving that goal. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s time to start assessing the habits of those around you. Think about the people that are like-minded and would be able to help you reach your goal. Seek support from those people. For example, if you know someone that has mastered cooking quick and healthy meals ask them for their recipes. Talk to the people at the Workout Bar and hold each other accountable to attending classes.
Often times we say that our friends and/or family keep us from being as healthy as we would like because of their habits. You might go out for drinks often, have too much sugar in the house or your time to catch up and chat takes place at Starbucks where your coffee and snack totals 500 calories. Share your goal with your loved ones and ask them for their support. Maybe the sedentary coffee klatch can turn into a 60 minute walk. If your family is not open to changing their lifestyle or habits, then determine a game plan. Rearrange your kitchen cabinets and have your food in one. That way you won’t be opening up other ones and seeing foods that might distract you.
Answer the following:
- Who are the people that I need to help me reach my goal? What do I need them to do?
- Who are the people that might inhibit me from reaching my goal? What do they do that concerns me? How can I prepare of those situations?
Can smaller goals lead to big change?
Absolutely! Think back to the goal of losing 30 pounds. You can lose 30 pounds by changing so many little things in your life. Little changes seem more manageable and less intimidating then bigger, audacious ones. If you currently go to Workout Bar two times a week, doesn’t it seem more manageable to say that you’ll start going 3 times a week as opposed to saying that you’ll go 7 days a week? If you drink three soda’s a day, isn’t it more realistic to say that you’ll have one soda a day and water at all other times during the day? Life shouldn’t be an “All or Nothing” approach. If you push yourself into too ridge of habits, you’ll eventually cave. Be happy with small progress. You’re confidence will improve which will lead to a increased self-efficacy and thus more healthy habits.
One final step:
Come up with three smaller goals that will help you attain your larger goal. Keep track of how you are doing with these goals by keeping a daily journal. Assess weekly to see if you need to make any changes.