We are a little over halfway through January: How are your resolutions holding up so far? If you are like most people, those lofty New Year’s goals are starting to dwindle or become harder to maintain. Now is a great time to check in and refresh those goals and the reasons you made them. With this upcoming series of blog posts, we will be honing in your goal setting skills to help maximize your chances of success.
On the agenda today, since we are still early in the “resolution” process: Setting the appropriate goal in the first place (and no, it is not too late to modify your resolution!).
Resolutions are no different than goal setting. They just carry with them a heavier name. A word that, itself, carries with it the inevitability of failure. In truth, how many people do you know who actually carry out their New Year’s resolutions? I’m willing to bet that number is next to none.
So how do you keep from being a resolution failure statistic? The best way, in my opinion, is by setting the right goal in the first place:
“Exercise More” or “Eat Better” is no way to set a goal that does anyone any good. Vague goals lead to vague senses of meeting this accomplishment. Be as specific as possible, adding timelines and quantifying goals wherever possible. This makes your goal more tangible, and your successes more well defined. For example, instead of “I will exercise more”, a more appropriate goal might be: “I will exercise two to three days per week, with exercise to include either walks of at least 30 minutes, jogs of at least 15 minutes, weight lifting for at least 20 minutes, and/or swimming for at least 10 minutes.”
Set smaller, step-wise goals that gradually lead you to achieve your ultimate resolution. Mini-celebrations of smaller goals keeps the end goal reachable, and it keeps you motivated to continue to move forward. Another example in step with the example listed previously: “I will exercises at least twice per week for 12 weeks, at least 3 times per week for the following 12 weeks, at least 4 times per week for the next 12 weeks, and 5 times per week for remainder of the year.” This breaks the goal of getting to 5 days of exercise per week attainable and tangible.
Knowing your own personality, your own health issues to be addressed, your own willpower, and your own history with goal setting and resolutions will help to set an appropriate goal. Some people respond well to going cold-turkey or abrupt and radical changes, while most others will need baby steps along the way to gradually attain success that can hold up for the long run. Either way, be honest with yourself to set a reasonable goal. Set a benchmark that is reasonable given your current status. For example, it would be inappropriate to set a goal of completing an Ironman in 3 months when the extent of your current exercise history is a jog to catch the elevator that leaves you doubled over, gasping for air. Aside from the inevitable physical injury that goal would likely produce, the odds of you getting past a week of this goal are next to nil.
Once you’ve taken these steps into account, your last step is to write it down. Something about putting pen to paper helps to really solidify your goal. Hone in your initial resolutions with the above tips, and you’ll be well on your way to goal setting success.
* Check back for next week’s blog: Tips on accountability as you work toward your goals.