“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the year.” –Spanish Proverb. This is especially true if tomorrow is New Years Day. Once again, you have resolved to do whatever it takes to lose weight. In fact, this may not be the first time you’ve made this resolution. So how will this time be any different? This time, you are going to take the time to plan by following these powerful and effective goal-setting techniques.
Why set goals?: The act of intentionally setting a goal begins the process of change. Goals give you organization and direction as well as providing a baseline for evaluating your efforts. Goals hold you accountable and help you keep your word to yourself. They also provide motivation and keep your attention focused on the desired outcome. There are four steps to successful goal setting:
Establish your goal: It’s time to get clear on your outcome; it must be something that you can realistically accomplish. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? For example, “I want to lose weight” is a good goal, but “I want to lose 20 pounds or run 3 miles or reduce my body fat by 15%”, is much more specific and measurable. Next step is to write down your specific goal. The power behind writing down your goals is to give you a road map to follow and a great way to help engage your subconscious mind. Read it daily and keep it posted where you will see it several times a day. It will help to keep you motivated. Always state your goal as a positive outcome to reinforce your desired goal. For instance, “I will eat a healthy breakfast every day”, this statement is much more powerful than “I won’t forget to eat in the morning”. Lastly, set performance goals based on changing your daily habits and behaviors rather than goals based entirely on the outcome for example, eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the television as opposed to only focusing on what the scale says.
Identify the benefit: Ask yourself “why” you want to change. How will your life be different or better once you have achieved your goal? What will your life be like if you don’t succeed or even try to make this change? What will your life be like if things stay the same or get worse? Identifying all of the reasons why you want to make a change is a great way to keep you going when times get tough.
Develop a plan: Turn your goal into specific behaviors. What specific actions will you take? How will you organize your time and prioritize your actions? What do you need that you don’t have? How will you be accountable for your actions? Get a support team! Why is accountability to someone other than yourself so important? By telling another person about your intentions, you are publicly stating your commitment to achieving your goal. You are taking responsibility for your success. If you know someone will be asking about your progress you are more likely to stay on target.
Evaluate and review your progress: What are your obstacles? Make a list of things that have been challenging and begin to create a strategy for managing these challenges in the future. If you are having trouble with an obstacle, then find out who and what your resources are and ask for help. Lastly, decide on little rewards to give yourself at regular intervals along the way for each of your successes.
If you are ready to change, using these goal-setting techniques can help you clearly identify the behaviors that will guarantee your success. Take the time to visualize how you want to feel at this same time next year. Practice changing the behaviors that are keeping you unhappy and unhealthy. Finally, be willing to make small adjustments along the way until you are living the life you truly deserve. As Mark Twain said, “Each one of us has the substance within to achieve whatever our goals and dreams define.”