Don’t fall into the ‘Goal Setting Trap’

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Welcome 2018! We welcome January with a sense of excitement and hope for the possibilities of change and accomplishments in the New Year. January is a time to think about change and for many of us that means setting a New Year’s Resolution.  Are you a resolution-maker?  Regular goal writer? Or perhaps you simply set intentions for the New Year?

New Years Resolutions are fun, to make, except most of us don’t stick with it past Valentine’s Day.

Why? Because most are too vague, restrictive, or unrealistic. And simply setting a goal can make you feel excited, energized and like you’re already making progress, except you’re not. Don’t fall into the trap of setting goals, creating plans and feeling better, but failing to take action and therefore making no progress.  

If you want to be successful, you need to do more than simply a set a goal.  Here are seven things you must do to achieve your goal.

1. Find your emotional why. Dennis Waitley wrote “if the why is strong enough, the how is not usually a problem”. The stronger the emotional connection to your goal, the greater your ability is to overcome barriers.  For example, a goal may be to remove processed food from your diet.  If the only reason is because someone once said it’s bad for you, you may have trouble sticking to it.  However, if its because you are tired of feeling bloated, and lethargic, and want to have energy to play with your kids when they come home from school, you will have a stronger adherence to your plan. 

Take action: Write down your WHY. Not only what you want to get away from (ex. Feeling lethargic, embarrassed, etc.) but also what you want to move toward (ex. Confidence, excitement to go clothing shopping, etc)

2. Get on a program that works- for YOU.

Recently, a new member described how she lost 80 pounds- simply by eating hardly anything at all.  She gained much of the weight back because the plan she was on made it impossible to socialize, to go out on holidays, or eat anything that tasted good, and she was unhappy.   I’m looking forward to showing her that there is a way to lose weight, keep it off, and love life!          

Take action: Setting a goal is a good start, but in order to achieve the goal you need to take action and get on a program that works- for you.  You may lose weight by eating only vegetables and chili powder, but you’ll have a tough time sticking with it.   When it comes to health and fitness, a complete program includes a nutrition, fitness and lifestyle coaching. 

3. Be laser focused on your goal DAILY.

I honestly believe that the reason many people fail to reach their goal is because they create big, elaborate plans, but do not focus on working toward their goal every single day.

Take action: Read your goal, and your why daily. Write out your goal on a card, and carry it with you everywhere you go.  Set reminders on your phone to read your goals on a daily basis.  Become intimate with your goals! Then decide on 1-3 things you will do each day to move yourself toward your goal. It doesn’t need to the same thing everyday.  For example, you may decide that for TODAY you will eat a fat-fueled breakfast, walk on your lunch break and keep a food journal.

4. Measure.

You cannot improve what you cannot measure.  The “M” of SMART goal setting is to set a measurable goal.  (Goals should be Specific, Measureable, have an Action Plan, Realistic and Time-bound). 

Take action: If you want to lose body fat, take photos, or measure your body composition (just not too often… change takes time!)  If you want to get faster at running, do a time trial on a regular interval.  If you want to increase the servings of vegetables you eat in a day, count how many veggies you have and write it on your calendar.  

5. Expect ups and downs.

When you set a goal, a set back can deflate your excitement.  You may wonder ‘is it worth it?’ or ‘I failed, what’s the point of going on?’.   Expect that you will have ups and downs on the path to reaching your goal.  Welcome failures as an opportunity to learn more about yourself, and do not expect perfection.

And, do not define success solely on result- especially when it comes to weight loss. Focus on getting healthier, becoming stronger, being more confident, along with action items related to that (I’ll get to that part shortly). Usually the result of listening to your body and becoming healthier and happier is weight loss, if you have weight to lose, but don’t let the number on the scale determine your success.

Take action: Create a ‘relapse’ plan BEFORE you need it. Write yourself a letter and a step by step plan how to get back on track. For example, your plan might include celebrating your successes, revisiting your WHY and asking yourself “what is one thing I can do right now that will help me move toward my goal?”.

6. Celebrate successes on the path to your goal.

We are tough on ourselves, period.  We constantly think we should be doing better, or berate ourselves for ‘slipping up’.  This mindset is stressful, and is counterproductive to reaching most goals, and especially health and wellness related goals.  Instead of only focusing on the negatives (I ate too much, I should have said no to dessert at dinner, etc.) start to give yourself credit for your successes, as little as they may seem. 

Take action: In real time, give yourself credit every time you do something that moves you toward your goal.  After eating proper portions at dinner acknowledge your success.  When you go for a walk on your lunch hour, give yourself credit.  Your internal celebrations will help you build confidence and fuel the fire to make more action steps toward your goal. You may also wish to reflect on your successes in a journal at the end of the day.  

7. Get support.

I have learned to stop trying to learn everything on my own; I seek out other people who are doing what I want to do, and I do what they are doing.  One common trait of everyone who I see who is successful is they surround themselves with a support system. 

Take action: Build a solid support network.  Align yourself with friends, or family who will truly support you and help you progress toward your goal.  If your loved ones are not immediately supportive, be honest and open with them.  Let them know why this is important to you, and how they can help you.

While setting a goal is an important first step, simply setting a goal is not enough. Commit to daily action, expect ups and downs and celebrate our wins! And, if you need more help, we are here for you.

-Dedicated to your success,

Tanja

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