We are already in the last few days of January, and we might find our shiny New Year’s Resolutions getting lost in the shuffle of our busy daily lives. We always begin the New Year with the best of intentions to make big impacts in the upcoming twelve months, but sometimes we set broad ambitions without a specific plan that can leave us coming up short year after year. All of this sounds a bit discouraging, but not to fear because there is a simple formula we can apply to take big lofty dreams and break them down into actionable, behavioral steps that get us closer to our goals.
You’re familiar with the formula: SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. Some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions are to get fit, change our spending/savings habits, eat cleaner, and take more time for self-development. Do you see how all these goals require more Specific definitions to point us in the right direction? Let’s look at an example to illustrate the SMART goals concept in greater detail.
1. Define Your Goal
The first step is to define your goal of “get fit.” I always tell my clients to ask themselves at least five questions about their goal to drill down and eliminate potential excuses that may creep up and interfere with the outcome. The first question might be “What are some measures of fitness?” Perhaps it's measured on a standard blood panel such as your cholesterol and fasting blood glucose, or maybe it is your resting heart rate coming down. Another question might be “How can I improve my fitness?” This relates to your personal fitness style. For me, it’s attending a spinning class at least twice a week and going for an hour long walk every Sunday. Yet another question could be “Who can I team up with to improve my fitness?” Do you have a walking buddy or someone to prepare meals with? All of these are potential questions to get more Specific about your goals.
2. How Will You Measure Your Goal?
The next step is to detail certain Measures of your goals. The more visual your goals are, the better off you will be in the long run. Consider writing your goals out on a neon-colored post-it note and posting it somewhere you look every day, multiple times a day. I have my resolutions posted on my whiteboard schedule that hangs next to my bed. You could also identify some non-scale measures of success to reflect on weekly or monthly such as your energy level, the quality of your sleep, your mood and the ways your clothes fit as indicators of improving fitness.
3. Make Sure Your Goal is Action-Oriented
Our goals also must be Action-oriented. This means writing goals in the positive, such as behaviors you will add to your routine, versus behaviors you wish to discontinue. Consider adding small and simple behaviors that quickly add up to improve your fitness such as a Thermal Walk after your lunch break or taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
4. Make Sure Your Goal is Realistic
Next, ask yourself, “Are my goals Realistic for my lifestyle?” If you rate your confidence in your ability to achieve your goals as a seven or above on a ten-point scale, then you have hit the mark! If you are below a seven, consider creating a range to set yourself up for a greater chance of success. This could be adjusting your workout goals from five times a week to three to five times a week.
5. Set a Timeline
Finally, attach a timeline to your goals to guarantee your success (Time-bound). If part of your fitness goal is to compete in a regatta, identify one and sign up! This gives you a direction to point yourself in. Further, break down your weight loss goals into manageable chunks such as losing 2-4 pounds every month.
If you bear all these tips in mind, your New Year’s Resolutions are likely to become your new healthy autopilot or components of your healthy living system. For more help with goal setting, consider our H3 at Home Program to team up with a coach to help you every step of the way. Best of luck for a Healthy and Happy 2019!