December 29, 2020
We've all probably made New Year's resolutions. But chances are we haven't kept them or achieved the goals we set for ourselves. Here's how to set realistic goals and achieve desired results for the new year...even when facing the challenges of a global pandemic.
Look at The Big Picture
Initially, you want to look at the bigger picture—something that will be achieved in either the near or distant future. Think about where you are now and where you want to be. Write it down. Taking the time to think about and examine where you are now will help you determine where you need to go. It will also help give you some of the motivation needed to get there.
Let's use a classic weight loss example: I want to lose 30 pounds.
Break it Down
Next, start to determine specifically how you are going to reach the big picture goal. Create a plan that works for your life. Does plan include healthy eating? Portion control? Exercise?
It's not necessarily important to set a goal in each of these suggested categories because several goals can be made within each of them depending on where you determine you need the most change. For example, maybe you are already in the routine of walking 4-5 days a week, but really need to work on eating better to achieve weight loss. Think of specific ways you are going to "eat better." This may include packing a lunch regularly, eating more fruits and vegetables, making more home cooked meals, or trying new recipes. But they must be things you feel are attainable.
Set SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. This method decreases ambiguity and helps you determine exactly how you will reach your goals. Here's an example:
Big picture goal: I will lose 30 pounds by Dec. 31. This goal is specific, it can be measured (30 pounds total), it’s attainable, and realistic (average weight loss of 0.5lb/week), and it’s time sensitive (it will be completed by Dec. 31). Now, how will it be achieved? Remember, be SMART.
- Goal 1: I will eat 1 serving of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables each day.
- Goal 2: I will pack my lunch for work 4 days a week.
- Goal 3: I will try 1 new recipe each month for the next year.
Stay on Course
Be careful not to set too many goals. Sometimes when we really get into goal-setting mode the list of goals goes on forever. This can and will become overwhelming and eventually lead to failure. Start with up to three goals and once you are in the habit of doing the things you set out to achieve, stop and reevaluate. Then consider setting new goals to help you on your course.
Accountability is key. When you keep your goals to yourself they lose some of their power. However, when others know your goals you literally have to “give an account” of where you are in the process, which leads to more support and better success.
Lastly, don't forget to reward yourself! Think of material (not edible) rewards for every step you achieve. And remember, when you achieve your first set of goals, write new ones that include a new reward upon completion.