Set realistic goals and improve your success rate using the SMART technique.
It happens so often: people set goals for themselves but fail to develop an action plan to reach them, do not give themselves enough time, or set goals that are too ambitious. They try hard for a week or two and then give up as soon as it becomes difficult, or they do not see immediate changes. This causes a loss of motivation and they may eventually give up. In most of these cases, their “why” isn’t strong enough.
So how do you find your “WHY”?
Finding your why is one of the most important parts of goal setting. While our goals can be relevant, meaningful, and valid, the why behind them will make us want to get out of bed every morning.
Finding your ‘why’ will increase your motivation, commitment and dedication. This will significantly increase your chances of successfully taking action towards your desired goal.
Let’s put it into practice with an example. Our clients often present us with a common goal: “I want to lose weight in the new year.”
Why do you want to lose weight? Why is it important to you?
They may say something like: “I want to lose weight because I want to fit into my favorite jeans, which will help me feel more confident in my physical appearance.”
We could get even more specific and ask: How would you feel if you reached that goal?
“I’d feel confident again when I give a sales presentation at work. I want to feel just as attractive as I did on my wedding day.”
The WHY behind the weight loss goal may not be driven by physical appearance but by vitality and longevity.
Perhaps there is a family history of diabetes or high cholesterol. Maybe you had a parent who died of heart disease due to poor nutritional choices and lifestyle habits.
Or, you want to have enough energy to go swimming, biking or hiking with your children or grandchildren.
We now have an emotional reason attached to losing weight which is very important because it will increase your motivation and chances of success.
Now that we understand our WHY, we can set a weight loss goal and apply the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting strategy.
Each letter stands for a different element.
S - Stands for Specific
M- Stands for Measurable
A - Stands for Attainable
R- Stands for Relevant
T - Stands for Time-Bound
Avoid setting goals that are too broad. The first step in your goal-setting process is to refine your goal into a specific accomplishment or milestone that you'd like to reach.
You may set a specific goal, “I want to lose 20 pounds.”
To achieve this, action needs to be put in place.
So setting a specific behavioral goal may be a better approach.
A weight-loss-related behavioral goal might include specific dietary changes or changes to your daily activity.
For Example: "I want to lose 30 pounds. I’ll start by increasing my daily activity by walking for 30 minutes every morning."
In order to track your progress during the weight loss journey, the goal you set needs to be measurable. You need to define how you will measure your success. For example, you can use the scale to track your progress, measure your body fat, or track inches lost.
"I want to lose 30 pounds. I’ll start by increasing my daily activity by walking for 30 minutes every morning. And I’ll track my weight three times per week and record it using an app."
To make your weight loss goal attainable, you should evaluate your history of weight loss or habit changes. For example, if you've never been able to get over that 10-pound weight loss plateau, then a weight loss goal of 50 pounds might not be reasonable. Or if you've set a goal to exercise every day, but you’re currently not exercising at all, then a daily exercise goal is probably not attainable.
All goals should be challenging, but they shouldn't be so difficult that they are overwhelming. Cut yourself some slack and adjust your goal so that it is reasonable.
"I want to lose 30 pounds. I’ll start by increasing my daily activity by walking for 30 minutes at least four days each week. And I’ll track my weight three times per week and record using an app."
Your goal needs to matter in your life. This goes back to understanding your WHY, and defining why the goal matters may help you stay motivated when complacency sets in.
You might want to slim down to fit my favorite jeans. Or you may want to reach a healthy weight to stay more active with your children or grandchildren.
"I want to lose 30 pounds. I’ll start by increasing my daily activity by walking for 30 minutes at least four days each week. And I’ll track my weight three times per week and record using an app" Increasing my activity level will help me lose weight to feel confident again.”
You should commit to a realistic amount of time that you'll take to reach your goal. If you've set a goal to lose 30 pounds, keep in mind that a 1-2 pound weight loss per week is generally considered healthy weight loss. So technically, it will take you between 15 and 30 weeks to achieve your goal.
"I want to lose 30 pounds. I’ll start by increasing my daily activity by walking for 30 minutes at least four days each week. And I’ll track my weight three times per week and record using an app. Increasing my activity level will help me lose weight and feel confident again.
I will re-evaluate my goal in 10 weeks and adjust my exercise or nutrition habits based on progress.”
There you have it. It is a tried, tested, and true step-by-step process of setting goals and reaching them. Always make sure you have a strong “why” and from there utilize the SMART strategy.
Be patient, be consistent, trust the process, and you’ll be sure to succeed.