Our Nutrition Guru, Bob Wright, has a mantra that he talks about in several of his seminars here at Hilton Head Health. That mantra is, “A goal without a plan is a wish”. There have been countless instances where people claim they have goals of getting in shape, but fail to plan for it. The time of year this happens most often is right after New Year’s. Perhaps you have heard someone with a New Year’s Resolution say something like this;
“This is the year I crack down on my health. 2013 is going to be the year I am fit and healthy.”
If that is all that person had to say, they just expressed to you a wish, NOT a goal. Having a wish does not make this person a bad person, in fact, I would say this makes them a normal person. I would venture to say that everyone has been guilty of confusing a wish with a goal at some point or another. The problem with wishes is that they are far less likely to come true than goals. When wishes don’t come true, we get discouraged and become less likely to succeed in the future. So then the question becomes; how do I turn an unlikely wish turn into an achievable goal?”
In order for a goal to be successful, it must first be fueled by something you truly desire. Imagine your goal is a car and your motivation is a key to the ignition. Without the keys (motivation) your car (goal) won’t start. Therefore, before putting in effort towards creating a goal, you must first paint yourself a picture of what you are looking to achieve. Truly take your time with this and answer yourself these questions;
- What is the significance of the goal?
- How will this goal help me in the long run?
- What is motivating me to get there?
- What qualities do I possess that will help me reach that goal?
- What challenges might I face along the way?
- How can I overcome these challenges
- Who might be able to help me get there?
Once these questions have been thoughtfully answered, a wish can then be turned into a goal; and not just any goal, a SMART goal. Creating a SMART goal is like putting on glasses to improve your vision. SMART stands for Specific Measurable Actionable Realistic and Time based. So let’s refer back to our original goal, “This is the year I crack down on my health. 2013 is going to be the year I am fit and healthy”. This statement alone is not SMART. An example of how this statement can be rephrased into a smart goal would be;
“I will participate in cardiorespiratory exercise at least 3 days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7 am before breakfast for at least 45 minutes. I will do this by going for a bike ride around the lake that is in my neighborhood. To make sure I am ready for it I will set my alarm for 6:45am on those days so that I am awake and ready to go on time. Three months from now I will be able to complete this same path 5 minutes faster than I currently can. Upon completing this goal I will feel healthier and more fit than I did before”.
Specific: going for a bike ride three days/week around the neighborhood lake
Measurable: Completing this path 5 minutes faster three months from now. Improvements in bike riding can be measured in several ways (i.e: time it takes to complete path, levels of exhaustion after completing path, distance traveled in allotted time, etc…)
Actionable: Physically going for a bike ride. Waking myself up using my alarm at 6:45am
Realistic: This is something I am confident I can do with my current capabilities and allotted time in my schedule
Time Based: Doing this at 7 am Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for at least 45 minutes.