The New Year has arrived. Are you on target to achieve your 2012 health goals? What? You don’t have any goals? You haven’t yet decided on any health goals that you need to work on this year?
Well then, we’ll fix that! Just take a couple of minutes (yes, right now) and jot down the first three to ten things that come to your mind regarding ways you could (or need to) improve the quality of your health.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started: “I need to drink fewer sodas,” (this should include diet sodas too!). “I need to drink more water.” “I need to go to bed earlier.” “I need to get more exercise.” or “I need to walk instead of riding a cart at the store.”
Okay, you get the idea. Now go ahead and write down three to ten things YOU could do that would improve your overall health–the quality of your life. (Yes, stop reading and write them down.)
Most experts agree that goals need to be formalized. Just saying them to your self or quickly jotting them down somewhere isn’t enough. To create meaningful, successful goals, you must first identify what you want to be different regarding your health and what lifestyle changes you need to make. List your overall goals and if necessary break down each health goal into small steps. From here, you tackle one (small) step at a time.
For example, if you know you need to drink fewer sodas each day (and yes diet sodas are no better for you than regular sodas), then a small step could be: drink one fewer soda each day (than you would normally). Now if you don’t drink more than one a day, you might set a small step to drink fewer than you would normally in a week’s time. In other words, take incremental, small steps gradually so that you can adjust, especially if you’ve become addicted to a food or drink.
You may want to determine categories for goals. For example, you can set goals for nutrition, hydration, exercise, sleep, fun & recreation, family time, “me” time, happiness, spiritual time, work, stress reduction, educational enhancements, relationships and so on.
Follow this proven formula for accountability making sure your goals and activities are SMART.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic (also = Risky)
T = Time Oriented
Making goals specific helps you focus and define exactly what you want to accomplish. This is defining a how, a what, and a why, to your goals, using action words such as, “plan,” “call,” “practice,” “make,” or “sign-up for.” For example, instead of setting a goal to exercise, you could decide to walk twenty minutes a day.
Goals need to be measurable. If you can measure it, you can manage it. For example, if you want to reduce your pants size from 16 to 14, when size 16’s are too big and the 14’s now fit, that’s measurable. This will keep goals targeted and allow you to know what you’ve accomplished. When you monitor your success, you stay on course; and when you’re successful, it will boost your confidence, which is critical to change.
Goals need to be realistic and achievable.
Lofty goals are self-defeating. If you set goals that are realistic, within your control, it is more likely that you will reach them. Accomplishing small steps toward your goals only increases your chances for long term success. (Reread the last sentence.)
Emphasizing the above example, if you ultimately want to reduce your pants size from 16 to 12 then set the first goal to go from a size 16 to a 14. Once you achieve that goal then set the next goal to go from a size 14 to a 12.
Knowing what’s worked in the past (strengths) and what hasn’t (weaknesses) will help you define realistic goals. An honest evaluation of your self is critical. Goals are not set in stone and should be reevaluated and modified as needed. Be flexible, make sure you stay within your control and don’t exceed your level of commitment.
Provides structure. Regardless of whether you’ve set goals for today, next week, next month, or years from now, the time range for achieving the goals should be specified. You don’t want it going on indefinitely. Establishing concrete timelines is very motivating.
Goal setting keeps you focused and less a victim of distractions. Prioritizing and working regularly with goals will help make life unfold in ways you only dreamed of.
Brian Tracy, in his book Million Dollar Habits, states the following, “Once you develop the habit of setting goals and making plans for their accomplishment, it will become as natural for you as breathing. By following a proven goal setting process, you will increase the likelihood of achieving your goals by as much as ten times, by 1,000 percent or more. This is not a theory; it has been proven and demonstrated on a national basis.”
Mr. Tracy sites a study reported by USA Today in February 2003 of people who had made New Year’s resolutions for 2002. Of those who had set New Year’s resolutions, but not put them in writing, they found only 4 percent had followed through on them. Of those who had written their New Year’s resolutions down, 46 percent had followed through on them. There was a difference in success rate here of more 1,100 percent!
Okay, now it’s time for you to determine a few goals of your own. Keep in mind the S-M-A-R-T formula. You don’t have to make goals for the entire year. Just take your list of three to ten things you jotted down earlier and pick one (or several) and start today (or tomorrow).
To your wellness,
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” ~ Mark Twain