Heading into the third week of the 2017, the New Year is well under way. If you are like many of those resolving to make this year better than the last, you might have started out with a small list of things that you’d like to accomplish this year. However, be sure to set yourself up for success that can keep you reaching for more. Don’t simply make a wish list that you find yourself rewriting every year, but PLANT goals for success – the first step in making your goals a reality!
Clearly define your goal to describe exactly what it is that you wish to achieve. You cannot focus on the tasks required to reach your goal, unless you know precisely what you are aiming for. For example, if your goal is to “eat better”, what exactly does that mean? Do you need to add more vegetables to your diet or perhaps just eat less fast food? A more precise goal would be to “start everyday off right by eating a heart-healthy, nutritious breakfast.”
Be sure you actually like your goal and are willing to work on it. How can you expect to put in the required time and energy, above and beyond what is typically required, if you don’t like what you are doing? It is your goal; you get to choose what it is! If you want to lose weight but loathe going to a gym, then don’t start the year off with a new gym membership. Perhaps make it a goal to “try a new form of exercise or activity until I find one that I love and can lose weight doing.”
It might seem counterintuitive to set a goal that you can achieve, especially if you are reaching for the stars or shooting for the moon, but by selecting something that is realistically within reach you set yourself up for continued success. Every time you complete one attainable goal, you develop and gain the skills necessary to progress to the next bigger and greater goal. For example, it could be an impressive goal to complete an Ironman but if you are not on an exercise program already, it could be a bit much for a beginner. A more realistic goal would be to participate in a mini-tri or an a half-Ironman.
Create an easy, concrete way to measure your progress. If you have clearly defined and attainable goal that you love, you need to be able to know if you are on track and in the right direction. Every goal can be broken down into something that you can quantify. Ask yourself questions like how many? How much? If the goal is to gain weight, how many pounds of lean muscle to you want to add? Or how many calories a day do you need to eat? It might take some research to be able to quantify your goal but if it is something that you really want and are willing to work for, then the homework is worth it!
Last but not least, when will you know you’ve reached your goal? If you have translated your goal in terms of numbers and can measure your progress, then it is time to put a deadline on it! For example, if the goal is to lose 20 lbs of fat, then write down the date for the weigh-in. if the goal is to run a marathon, then highlight the date of race day. Breaking down the long-term goals into several short-ones can be beneficial to help create a sense of urgency. Write down the dates to lose the weight in 5 lb increments. Highlight the dates to run 5k, 10k, and a half-marathon. Achieving these smaller goals along the way in a timely manner will help fuel the fire to keep you reaching for your ultimate goal.
And lastly, get started right now! Remember, your goal is something that you love and want – time is of the essence!