You’re scrolling through your social media feed and you see a picture of a woman with perfect abs and a headline that goes something like this, “How This Fitness Blogger Lost 50 Pounds By Transforming Her Lifestyle”. Obviously you click through, looking for the simple thing she did to look that good (even I click through sometimes out of sheer curiosity). But here’s the thing, those articles make the transformation seem easy. In reality, setting goals and sticking to them is difficult. Without the proper planning, dedication and know-how, keeping up with a new year’s resolution can be damn near impossible. But not this year.
This year, I’m going to fill you in on what you need to know about setting goals. The things you don’t think about before you throw a lofty goal out there and hope that you will figure out how to make it happen. Because, let’s be honest, we’ve all had goals that we didn’t achieve, and they weigh on us. So here’s what you need to know about setting goals and how to make sure they actually stick.
1. Write this down–setting a goal and achieving it is one of the best feelings in the world. Whether it’s a huge goal, like running a marathon or starting a business, or a small goal, like eating a veggie with dinner for an entire week. Succeeding in something you set your mind to will make you feel more alive than anything else.
2. Focus on the positive rather than the negative. A surefire way to fail to fulfill your goal is to focus on what you’re giving up or can’t do. Instead, it’s best to think about what you want to achieve or the desired outcome.
Which of these two things sounds like they will motivate you to finish a workout? a) Thinking about the cookie or glass of wine you’re missing out on or b) focusing your energy on fact that you’re getting stronger and tomorrow’s workout will be easier and more energizing.
I bet it’s the latter.
I know that staying positive is not always easy, but it’s one of the best things you can teach yourself to make a goal a reality.
3. Do something that will make you happy. We tend to think of New Year’s Resolutions as things that are hard to do or that we don’t even really want to do. For instance, forcing yourself to eat kale salads or running a 5K, even though you hate running. Let’s be realistic, if your goal is something that doesn’t make you happy, it’s not going to stick. If you really hate kale, don’t resolve to eat kale. If you love cheese and you resolve to go vegan, chances are that’s not going to last very long. Think about what makes you happy and do more of that. It may be difficult to choose, especially if you want to lose weight and sitting around watching TV makes you happy. But what about something that aligns with your goal? Like eating an apple a day or dancing for 20 minutes every night.
4. Start small. I’ve said this so many times that I’m starting to feel like a broken record. Goals get thrown by the wayside because they are way too big for their britches. Starting small is one of the best ways to stick to a goal. I like to break down a large goal into weekly goals and write down 3 things that I can do that week to advance my goal. For example, if you goal is to run a half marathon, but you’ve never run more than 5K, your weekly goal may be to run a half a mile more than last week. Then you can add on mileage each week until you get to a half-marathon distance. Or if your goal is to cut out your nightly snacking routine, maybe you replace your nighttime snack with fruit one night. The second week, make it two nights. The third week, eat fruit for all your nighttime snacks. Start small and build.
5. But, have a large goal in mind. Even though I talk about small goals all the time, I actually LOVE large goals. I have a bunch of them. I want to be on Survivor. I want to grow my blog and media presence. I want to run a 6-7 figure business. And I know that I will eventually make those things happen. Definitely not tomorrow. Maybe not even in 2018. But those goals are always in the back of my mind. Everything I do is helping me work towards those goals. Have a huge goal that you want to achieve and keep it in the back of your mind. Maybe even write it on a post it note and put it on your desk. Just know that those things take time.
6. Recognize that failures are part of success. This year, I started an entrepreneurial book club with some of my fellow Dietitians. The first book we are reading is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I chose this book because one topic in the book really resonated with me. It’s the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become successful at something.
This is so easy to forget when you’re scrolling through social media and see all the gorgeous photos of super healthy meals or life changing moments. But what you don’t see on social media is the failures, which are a natural part of success. There were many ugly photos and terrible moments that weren’t posted on social media. In other words, if you fall off the horse, get up and get back on. Don’t let it be the end of your ride. Expect the failures and figure out how you will deal with them. Sulk for a day, an hour or a week and then pick up where you left off.
Now that I’ve given you the secrets to setting successful goals, let me share my 2018 goals.
- Try something new every month. The purpose of this goal is to challenge me to do things that frighten me. In January, I’ll be attending an improv class. I’ve never acted a day in my life, but I want to be a better public speaker and grow my confidence in front of a crowd. Make sure you follow me on Instagram and Facebook to see what new thing I try every month.
- Run a sub 2-hour half marathon. This is my challenging goal. Truth be told, I started the training for this in November because this is going to be difficult for me. I’m not a fast runner, and I always felt like I couldn’t run a half marathon any faster than I currently am. But I no longer accept that as true. I’ve started a training plan and I plan to make this goal a reality in 2018. Check back in a week or so for a glimpse into that plan.
Here’s my challenge to you. Think about the things that help you successfully set goals and come up with one of your own. If you already have something in mind, is it achievable or do you need to tweak it a bit?