January 1 - You set your goal. It's easy - you’re going to go to the gym. Every day. For an Hour! You’re going to be so fit, you’re going to lose 20 lbs, you’re going to feel great, look fabulous, the heavens are going to open and light will shine down upon you. It’s going to be great!
And you do it. For a few days. Maybe even a week or two. But then life happens. There’s a parent-teacher conference, so you miss a day. You have a deadline at work, so you miss three more days. Then there’s a blizzard, you’re too tired after a bad night of sleep, your kid gets a cold, then you get a cold, when you come back you’re backed up with work and playing catchup with long hours. The next thing you know, you haven’t even set foot in the gym in three weeks and you feel bad about yourself because you should have done better. You try to rev it up, maybe you make it back to the gym everyday for a week, but the whole thing feels overwhelming, daunting, and the next thing you know it’s June. You hate how you look in a bathing suit, which is fine. Parking at the beach is so expensive and your kids always get invited to go with one of their friends, anyway, so it’s okay if you don’t actually take them this year.
But you are going to turn over new leaf next year. Next year is going to be your year. And come January 1, you do it. You go to the gym every day...every day until work, snow, kids, colds...and so it continues.
But there is a different way.
The number one reason people fail to meet their goals is because they actually set the wrong goals. People set huge, high-level goals like “Lose 50 pounds”. I’ll let you in on a secret--a goal like this is not achievable. With a goal like this, you are guaranteed to fail. Yes, you heard that right. You are GUARANTEED TO FAIL.
In order for a goal to be achievable, it needs to have a few key criteria and then it needs a clear plan that you can actually follow. Your goals, like your phone, need to be SMART in order to be powerful.
What’s a SMART goal?
SMART goals are Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Setting a goal of “Lose 50 pounds” is guaranteed to fail because it is SMAR but not T(imely). It’s going to take longer than a few months to attain and without breaking it down into smaller pieces or putting into place the right plan to support this long-term goal, eventually you’ll feel like you’re not where you should be, you’ll get discouraged and the whole process starts anew.
If you have a long-term goal of losing 50 pounds, you need to break it down into smaller, easily measured and easily achieved goals. By being able to track your progress in smaller chunks, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve actually come and you’ll be able to celebrate your little victories, which give you the motivation and self-support you need to keep on track towards your long-term goal.
As you get started, here are a five tips to help you set and achieve your SMART weight loss goal:
Get to the real reason why you want to make a change. It is not about how much weight you can lift or how much weight you want to lose. It is greater than that. Think about yourself a year from now, what do you look like, more importantly how do you feel in the new outfit you are wearing at next year’s New Years Eve party? How will you feel when the friend you haven’t seen is raving about how wonderful your skin looks?
Start with small changes. As the old saying goes “How do you eat (or lose) an elephant?”...”One bite (pound) at a time”.
Be nice to yourself. It is ok to cut yourself some slack and NGU (never give up). If a relapse happens or you have a bad day, its ok, just get back to the game plan. Remember why you want your goal.
Focus on adding, not taking away. It is much easier to layer healthy options into your routine, rather than trying to deprive yourself. Set a goal to eat a vegetable at every meal. Don’t worry about the donut. Eat it. Just make sure you eat a vegetable at every meal.
Identify where you need help. Know yourself- if you join a gym will you go? If you decide to work out at home will you do it? Would a trainer that comes to your home be helpful? Is it worth the investment?