Another year is upon us, meaning it’s time for reflection and setting new goals.
Looking back at your goals from last year, how many of them did you reach? Hopefully, you reached some of them, but there’s a good chance that there were a few you didn’t.
Was the reason for not successfully hitting your goal due to a lack of effort? Forgetting your goal as the year went on? A change in perception of what’s important to you? Or maybe it was just that you set unrealistic goals for yourself?
You may not have reached all your goals last year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work a little smarter in order to reach your goals this year.
The best place to start is with SMART Goals:
- Your goal can’t be vague. You need to create concrete goals. We want black and white, not the in-between grey area. If someone asks you what your goal is you should be able to explain it with ease in one sentence: I want to register for a class by next Friday. As opposed to saying I’d like to go back to school sometime soon. Notice the clear difference there? The first one shows commitment and a plan of action. The second is just a thought with no real commitment.
- You have to be able to measure your goals! If you simply say “I want to feel better”, how will you ever know for sure if you do. This is something that can change daily for you and isn’t something you can without a doubt say you achieved. Choose goals such as I want to sleep an extra hour each night. I want to workout one extra day per week. I want to read one book a week. These are all goals you can easily measure and there’s no debating whether you achieve them or not.
- Set realistic goals. The quickest way to reach failure is by setting unrealistic goals for yourself. You need to be able to see and reach for that goal and know by a bit of hard work, behavioural change and change in routine, you can attain them. This allows you to reach your goals sooner, and in return, create new goals. Do you want to lose 20lbs? Don’t set your goal to 20lbs in a year. Instead, set a goal of 2lbs a month. By breaking up the goal from a year goal into a monthly one, you will be less overwhelmed, better able to track progress and fix any slip-ups before it’s too late.
- The goal needs to be important to you. Don’t choose a goal that will make someone else happy because then you’ll have no personal reason to stay committed. Choose something you’re passionate about, something you know you’ll be so happy to tell others about. When you do that, you’ll want to not only achieve your goal, but you’ll want to achieve it quickly. It’s no different than going on a trip, to watch a movie, or go to dinner. If you’re going to a place you are excited to go to, you’re not likely to bail. If you’re not fully invested, it’s a lot easier for you to start looking for excuses or reasons to not go. Same goes for the goal. Choose a goal that you know you want to achieve and won’t waiver from.
- Set a deadline for your goal! Deadlines set boundaries and keep the pressure on you to make progress towards achieving something. With a deadline, you know you need to start working on it. This helps keep you accountable and prevents you from saying to yourself “I’ll start tomorrow” because if you do this, tomorrow will never happen. If however, you set a deadline of 30 days, 10-15 days in you’ll start to feel that deadline approaching and you know you’ll need to step it up to prevent you from falling further behind.
Beyond these guidelines, there are a few more things you can do that will lead to success:
Create a supportive network
- It’s hard to stick to something if you’re the only one who knows about it. Why is that? One simple reason. Who will know if you quit? No one but you. If you share your goals with other people who either have like-minded goals or those who are just supportive people in nature, you’re more likely to stick to this goal. Because if you don’t, you’re no longer just letting yourself down, but them as well.
- Tell one person what you will accomplish this year. Not what you WANT to accomplish, what you WILL accomplish. Change your outlook and tell one person. You’ll see how your year will change for the better.
Hold yourself accountable
- Whatever your goal, you need to have a reason for sticking to it. In order to do this, you need to not only list out reasons why you want to achieve it but also make a list of negative consequences if you don’t stick with the goal. Not reaching your goals can set you back further, and make you feel bad for failing. Preventing these negative feelings can be just as motivating as wanting to succeed. Weighing the pros and cons will make you more receptive to the situation and put the responsibility completely within yourself.
- It’s always easier to stick to a plan if you know you’re going to be rewarded. The best kind of goals are those that are intrinsic in nature. These include personal growth, improving health, basically, anything relates back to you internally. These aren’t always easy to stick with, so reward yourself with an external reward. Some examples include treating yourself to a nice meal, spa day, or buy yourself something you’ve always wanted. You’ll notice you’ll be a lot more committed to achieving the goal you set for yourself.
The more goals you can achieve over time, the greater your sense of success, meaning the more eager you will be to go and achieve even more. Do the opposite, set a huge unfair goal for yourself, and you only set yourself up for disappointment. Choose a goal that you can realistically achieve in the short term. Short term goals lead to long-term goals, meaning short-term improvements result in greater overall improvements over time.
Cody Dietrich, CSEP-CEP, B. Kin
Owner / Clinical Exercise Physiologist
As a CEP, Cody’s primary focuses are in athletic development and fat loss. He is also well-versed in rehabilitation training for athletes and working with special populations who have specialized health needs, including arthritis, osteoporosis, COPD, PAD, and cancer.