Setting New Years Resolutions The S.M.A.R.T Way
Today is January 1st 2018 which for many means the creation of New Years Resolutions.
However, it is highly likely that you have set resolutions previous years only to not achieve them and possibly give up after only a few weeks.
So today, I want to run through how you can really look at your goals & resolutions and lay a framework to achieve it.
Let’s look at the S.M.A.R.T way to setting your goals and ensuring success:
1 – Specific
Let’s not kick off 2017 with a goal of simply “losing weight” or “getting fitter”. Both of those are quite vague and is specific enough for you to really become attached to them.
If you want to lose weight, then how much? More importantly, WHY do you wish to lose weight?
The role of a specific goal is to be something that makes you “tick”. Something that would really mean a lot to you upon achieving it.
The more specific you can make the goal to you, the more it will motivate you to achieve it because it is YOUR goal, not just a vague one pumped out by the fitness industry/society.
Never forget that you’re doing this for you, nobody else.
2 – Measurable
Here’s an area I see so many fail and it’s a simple fix.
Once you set your goal, you now want to be able to measure it.
Looking to lose weight? Measure it. Use both a weighing scales (yes you’re allowed use it) and a measuring tape to take body circumference measurements to track progress. I’d check your weight twice a week and body measurements every 2 weeks. You can also use your clothes as a guide.
Want to get fitter? The track the time it takes you to run/walk/hike/row/cycle set distances. If the time is coming down, you’re getting fitter. It’s also an excellent way to keep you motivated to push and chip away at the time.
(When it comes to becoming “fitter” I would always recommend you determine what “fitness” actually is to you. In basic terms, fitness is defined as your ability to do a given task. For many it can be to play with the kids without getting out of breath, run up a stairs without panting, to have more energy and feel good about themselves. So determine what fitness is to you)
Want to look better/toned? Take progress pics in your underwear from the front/side/back. If you genuinely want to improve the way your body looks then you must keep track of it. Take progress pics every 2-3 weeks to make sure not too much time passes if you’re not making progress.
They’re some very simple ways to measure progress to your goals.
3 – Achievable
Now here’s where it can be tough for me as a coach. It’s tough to tell someone to revise their goals if I don’t see them as achievable. The more achievable your goal is, the more motivated you become with every step closer you get to it.
If you set a really hard goal for yourself then it seems like it would take an eternity to reach it which can lead to abandoning it altogether which I don’t want to happen you.
So before you go setting a goal, let’s take a step back for a second.
Let’s take 2 scenarios:
1 – Lose 3 Stone. A common goal for many is to lose a few stone. But as a coach I have to look at the context.
How have you gained that unnecessary 3 stone? What have your habits and diet been like the last few years? What diets have you tried and possibly failed? Where are the big challenges that have caused the weight gain and prevented you from succeeding on a diet before?
Once you start to address these, you can start to get a better understanding of what has gone on up to this point. The you can start to break down the past in order to rebuild a better future.
Without addressing those issues with a view to improving them, then the achievement of your goal gets a lot harder.
2 – Want to run 10k. Another very common goal so let’s look at it.
First thing to look at is – What has your fitness/exercise history been like? Have you ran much recently, do you struggle with fitness? Do you actually like running or do you feel the need to run in order to become “fit”?
Once again, address these so you can develop a true understanding on what you’re taking on and how you can build a strategy to ensure success.
4 – Relevant
Now that you’ve address all the above, let’s make your actions relevant to your goal.
So if you wish to lose weight, you will be required to consume less food and maybe exercise a bit more on a consistent basis. To get fitter you’ll need to take part in some fitness training 2-3 times a week. To look better you’ll want to combine some weight training with a solid diet.
So your daily actions should be relevant to your goal.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to eat cookies and drink coke and achieve your goals. So every day you must make a conscious effort to make small changes to help you in your quest to achieve your goal.
Eat healthy foods 80% of the time, cut down on sugar and junk food, drink plenty of water, make sure you eat plenty of veg for vitamins and minerals, protein at every meal, exercises 2-3 times a week, sleep 7-8 hours a night, take some time every day to wind down/de-stress, get outside more.
All are examples of daily actions that are relevant to achieving your goal.
5 – Time Oriented
Now if none of us ever had deadlines to adhere to we’d probably get nothing done.
So the same goes for your resolution.
Setting a timescale for yourself is good because it gives you motivation to hit your goal by X date. Without a clear end date, it’s easy to just spin your wheels without ever really getting the head down and working on making a big change.
When setting the time-frame for you goal, make sure it’s challenging but also achievable, otherwise you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Now I just want to cover 1 extra point outside of the SMART goal setting:
6 – Make CheckPoints
What I mean here is that if you want to lose 3 stone I suggest you break that up into 6 x 0.5 stone pieces.
So for every 0.5 stone you lose, you’ve hit a checkpoint on the way to your goal.
For many, they can become disheartened from being so far away from their goal when in reality they’ve just taken great strides and are losing weight, becoming healthier and looking better.
It’s easy to become fixated on the end goal and constantly look at “how much more” you have to go before you get there.
But if you hit the 7lbs checkpoint, then you’re only 7lbs away from the next one and all of a sudden you’ve lost a stone.
It’s another good way of keeping motivation, hitting mini targets and keeping you on track with your goal.
Same goes with running 10k.
Run 1k first, then 2k, then 3k.
Continue until your fitness levels increase and work up to that 10k run.
If you go out the first day and try run 10k you’ll feel like death and will think it’s not for you.
The take home point is:
Break your goal down so you can get a sense of achievement as you hit each checkpoint.
You’ll stay motivated and will keep on track instead of always feeling like you’re miles away from the end goal.
Be honest with yourself.
2-3 weeks isn’t enough time to make a massive difference but it sure is a perfect timeframe to make strides towards setting yourself up for a great 2018.
So don’t be one of those who quits by the end of January.
Give it time, stick with it and don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help.
Get the head down, work hard and don’t be afraid of the challenge.
There will be times you slip up, fall down or feel like quitting.
It happens all of us. The ones that succeed at the ones who don’t quit.
So go and make 2018 great for you.
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