Have you set yourself a goal for 2016? Or maybe you have a vague idea of how you’d like to feel or look in 12 months’ time? The best way to achieve these goals is to set out a plan and stick to it.
Step 1: What would you like to achieve?
- Do you have a weightloss goal?
- A fitness goal?
- Would you like to get into a certain size of clothing?
- Are you planning on doing a specific type of event or challenge?
- Or do you want to have more energy?
The best way to set a goal that you will actually stick to is by making sure it is a SMART goal and even better make it a SMART-ER goal. This means they need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. Adding the extra E and R means that you can Evaluate the goal and that you can also Review the goal at certain stages.
So for example if you have a weightloss goal in mind then a non-SMART goal would be:
“I want to lose weight”
This doesn’t have a start or end date, it doesn’t specify how much weight and therefore how will you know when or if you’ve achieved it?
A SMART version of this goal would be:
“I want to lose 12lbs by the end of week 12”
So this is Specific, ’12 lbs’, Measurable – you will see the scales moving, Achievable – 1lb a week is a sensible rate of weightloss (it isn’t recommended that you lose more than 3lbs a week unless you have a great deal of weight to lose), Realistic – again 1lb per week is a realistic target and Time-related ‘by the end of week 12’. If this is the kind of goal you have in mind then make sure you pin down the date for the start and end of the 12 week period.
When you reach the end of Week 12 you can Evaluate it – how much weight have you lost? And you can Review it – if you didn’t reach your goal what can you do differently next time, if you did how can you repeat these great results?
Step 2: Plan for short, medium and long-term
Write down SMARTER goals for the next 4 weeks, 12 weeks, 6 months and 12 months. The longer term ones might change as you achieve your short-term goals, so factor in time to re-evaluate them as time moves forward. Spend time thinking about where you would like to be in 12 months’ time, how you would like to look and feel. Imagine how amazing this is going to feel and write down those feelings. You can even seal all this inside an envelope and then open it in 1 year’s time to see what you expected of yourself and whether you made it. When you know you have that anniversary coming up you will be more inclined to work positively towards it.
Periodically revisit your goals (I revisit my clients’ goals every 4 weeks) and see how you are doing. If your end of week 12 goal was to be able to do 50 complete sit-ups, then your end of week 6 goal should be to be able to perform 25 complete sit-ups. If you find you can manage 20 full sit-ups by the end of week 6, then you might want to adjust your end of week 12 goal to 40 full sit-ups instead. This isn’t compromising your goal – you might find you still meet your original goal of 50 AND if you do you’ll be so happy that you’ve gone 10 over your current goal! If you don’t adjust and promise yourself – I’ll work harder I’ll make it, I’ll do more and you only get 49, it’ll feel like a loss rather than the immense achievement it really is!
If your goal is about feeling something, healthier, less lethargic, more energised then you might find it beneficial to log how you feel at the beginning of week one, and then periodically log it every 4 weeks. Rate your energy levels on a scale of 1-10, any way that you will understand where you currently are, and be able to compare it to your results at the end of your 12 week plan (for example).
Step 3: Decide your action points
How are you going to achieve these goals? Will that be working out x number of times a week, or altering something about your eating habits, or will you need to join a group to learn more?
Write these action points down. These too should be achievable, small changes stick! So if
you’re looking at altering your eating habits towards a healthier (and cleaner) lifestyle your action points might be: drink 2ltrs of water per day, cut out crisps, cut out chocolate, cut down alcohol to no more than 3 glasses per week, swap fried snacks for healthy ones. Now this is a lot of changes that individually will have an effect and combined will have a massive effect, but don’t feel like you need to complete all these action points in one go. You could pick 1 for week 1 and then add-in the 2nd one for week 2 and so on. Within 5 weeks you’ll be doing all of them and can review these again. For every week you stick to these action points you’ll be forming healthy habits, and it takes between 2 and 4 weeks for habits to stick.
Step 4: How will you reward your accomplishments?
“But if I can’t go out for drinks or dinner what’s the point?” I hear you cry. There are so many ways you can reward yourself for meeting your healthy lifestyle goals. How about treating yourself to a massage, a treatment, a weekend away, new (smaller) clothes, a day out with the family – a weekend break away. Or why not get a new TV or console, or splash out on the game you’ve wanted for ages? We all need to get out of this habit of thinking – right I’ve worked out for an hour so I DESERVE that donut/McDonalds/Extra glass of wine – you don’t deserve it – you deserve better.
Train hard, eat clean and your body will thank you for it. Don’t negate all that hard work by filling up your body with sugar, alcohol, fat….the list goes on! I am not saying you have to cut out ALL fatty foods, sugar and that you have to become teetotal overnight. Everything in moderation is a great mantra – or it’s what you put in your body MOST of the time that counts – so sit down and think about what you love that doesn’t involve food or drinking and write it down in your diary (or put it in your phone calendar) at each goal point. Then you can look forward to your treats as the time goes by. Keep these rewards in mind as you’re working towards your goals and you will find that workout gets a little easier!
Worried about making the right food choices? Eating clean means eating food that doesn’t have a TV advert for it. Avoiding all processed foods is a good first rule (this includes margarine or pretend butter), learn which fats are good for you and eat those. Do your research.
Step 5: Never Give Up!
If you miss a day it’s not the end of the world, draw a line under it and get right back on it the next day. If you find you’re missing more and more days, and suddenly it’s a week and you’re not doing what you need to hit your goals then you need to re-evaluate. Maybe you tried to do too much too soon? Small steps and small changes have great impact over 6-12 months and they tend to stick long term! Maybe you’ve set yourself a goal that deep down you don’t feel any passion about? Really ask yourself, what do I want to achieve? Now, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year?
And most of all every workout, every step, every healthy choice is a big tick in your box, a massive pat on the back so don’t forget to tell yourself ‘well done’ every time! Because YOU are awesome.