Did you set resolutions or goals this year – how’s your progress? By now most people have let resolutions fall by the wayside.
Goals to get out of debt, lose weight, start an exercise program, fund an emergency savings account, etc. are stalled. If this is you, instead of sweeping those goals away or putting them on the shelf for next year hit the reset button and recreate better goals.
That starts with understanding what you want to achieve and why. Yes, you may want to lose weight or get out of debt, but hopefully, that’s not all.
Perhaps what you really want is to revamp your eating habits so that you eat more nutritious foods and stop yo-yo dieting. Because you want to gain more energy, feel sexier, stop being sick or in pain, look better and feel more alive.
Or, not only do you want to get out of debt, you want to overhaul your finances, so you pay off your loans, save money, stop living paycheck to paycheck, fund your retirement and achieve financial independence. Allowing you to feel more secure, relaxed, charitable and free.
To achieve these outcomes – your what – it’s important to know what feeling you are after and why you want that. Drill down to the real reason by asking yourself why more than once.
What Are Your Goals?
- What do you want? (better health, weight loss, no debt, savings, etc.)
- How do you think you will feel if you achieve it?
- And why do you want that?
- And Why will that be better?
- And why?
- I want to lose weight and have more energy so I can keep up with my family and friends
- I think I will feel healthier, sexier, happier, connected and alive.
- Because I’m tired of not being able to keep up with my partner and/or kids
- Sometimes I feel I let them down when I’m too tired to participate
- At times I feel left out when they do an activity I cannot
- I don’t want to be a burden to them, and I want to be here for my grandkids
- Because I want to be a better me so I can be better for them. I only have one life to live, and I want to live it to the fullest.
Next, use the SMART goal criteria to define a specific health and weight loss goal. Make it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Framed. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? And do you understand, possess, or have the ability to obtain, the physical and mental knowledge, skills, time, motivation and/or capacities to meet them?
Don’t forget the outcome. What is it you are looking for? The feeling you desire?
The “How” of Goals
Now it’s time to turn your outcome based goals into actionable steps or habit-based goals. An outcome goal doesn’t tell you how to achieve your desire; it’s just the what. Performance goals become the how.
What are the specific steps or actions you need to take to reach your goal or desired outcome? And how do you instill the habits to not only achieve your goal but also have permanent change?
Take each specific outcome goal one at a time and brainstorm how to reach them. Write down anything you know or imagine could help you achieve your goal. If a thought pops in your head, write it down – no censoring or judging at this point.
Example: Outcome Goal – Save $5,000 in 12 months
- Eat out less
- Learn to cook
- Pack lunch
- Invite people to house instead of restaurant or bar
- Turn the heat down/air conditioning up a notch
- Drive less, walk or bike more
- Cancel cable / subscriptions
- Implement a shopping ban
- No new clothes for six months or more
- Only buy necessities
- Eliminate or cut back on alcohol
- Shop insurance rates
- Open a savings account and automate deposits to it
- Get a roommate
- Anything else you can think of!
Continue until you have a substantial list (25 or more), then go back through your list and identify actions you believe you could realistically do. You may not know how to do them right now, but with instruction or information, you think it is something you can do.
Example – Outcome Goal: 20-pound weight loss in 6-months
- Perform strength training activities in the morning before work/school three days per week
- Make a morning protein smoothie daily for breakfast
- Pack a healthy lunch and snacks daily
- Take a brisk walk during lunch hour
- Cook dinner at home at least six days per week
- Drink more water
- Exercise on the playground with kids/grand-kids
- Take a hike, long bike ride or jog on the beach one day every weekend
Continue until your list is 15 – 20 steps or so. Next, separate them into one-time tasks (such as canceling cable or opening a savings account) and daily tasks/habits (20 min. walk or drink 64oz. of H2O). Finally, order each of those task lists from easiest to hardest.
Decide What You’ll Do & Commit To Do It
Now, whatever you do, don’t tackle them all at once! Instead, start with the easiest tasks first. For those on the ‘one-time’ task list start at the top and strive to complete at least one or two a week until all the tasks are checked off.
If some of the tasks are very easy, quick or if you feel like you could batch a few together feel free to do so. Just don’t overwhelm yourself. It’s better to complete the list one week at a time, then try to do too much the first week and stop because you ran out of steam.
For the ‘daily’ tasks/habits list start with the first item and do it and only it for two weeks. Then add the next task/habit for the next two weeks so that you are completing both habit 1 and habit 2. Two weeks after that add habit 3. You should now be doing practices 1, 2, and 3. Continue adding a new daily habit every two weeks so that you are doing the new habits and all previous habits.
Many people will want to add more than one task/habit at a time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t typically work. Change takes time, and we need to train our brains and ourselves to accept and act on these changes. One at a time appears to be the best and healthiest way to add habits that we will stick to long-term.
For bigger goals and transformational changes, I suggest also reading this post.
Looking for more information, resources or help? Please reach out or let me know in the comments.
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