It happens before every summer, and every new year: people will make resolutions to lose weight, eat right, and get healthy. Unfortunately, up to 88% of people fall through on their goals in record time. So how can we make our personal goals stick, and avoid the usual pitfalls? Here are a few tips to help with making effective goals on the way to any achievement:
Set Your Horizon
Your journey cannot begin without a destination. A goal always starts with the driving factor which is the long term outcome you want to achieve. Whether its ”I want to change my eating habits,” ”I want to lose 50 lbs” or, “I want to quit smoking”, you must decide on the end point.
Make a Plan
To create an outcome is the first step, but it is completely hollow unless it is followed with “I will achieve this by…” This is also the best time to do research. Research may include collecting healthy diet recipes, finding a workout plan that best suits your lifestyle and interests, or browsing the local gyms for one you would feel comfortable working out in.
It may also include looking into the success stories of others, and asking questions: some of the best advice you can receive is from someone who has reached a similar goal. The planning stage is the best time to set a realistic deadline for when you want to be successful by. Not only does this keep you on track, it helps you evaluate your progress over time, to better understand how far you can go. (Research is also very useful for understanding what a reasonable timeline is for your specified goal).
Be Realistic, and Start with Small Goals
Once you have determined an end point and a plan to follow, its time to plan a few pit stops. Progress does not happen over night, and small goals help gratify our successes while keeping us focused on the end outcome. If your overall goal is to lose 100 lbs, start with 15, and celebrate your achievement.
Start with dropping a pant size, lifting 5 lbs more than you can at the moment, or switching to whole grains. The success of these small goals replenish our drive to reach our final destination, and encourage us through those long phases in between, where it may feel as if we are not getting very far.
Find a Support Group
Share your goal with your friends and family, and ask someone to join you on your journey. Exercise partners are a great way to keep yourself accountable, and motivated! Support groups can help facilitate the research portion of your planning, share their own experiences, and help you when you are struggling.
In many cases, people find that their immediate friends may not be the most supportive to their plans, but do not be discouraged by this! There are people everywhere who will support you, and you may gain new friends in the process.
Be Accountable and Honest
One of the largest pitfalls associated with exercise, health and diet goals is denial, so do not be afraid to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Everyone is capable of making an excuse for why they didn’t make their workout, and we all know they’re usually tenuous at best. But the excuse game is in no way is beneficial towards reaching your goal.
If you don’t have an excuse, don’t try and make one. Acknowledge your slip up, take responsibility, and move on. It is only through acknowledging our faults, weaknesses, failures and slip ups, that we are able to meet them head on and achieve better in the future.
Do Not Succumb to Guilt
Regret over an indulgence or a missed workout often leads to an entire guilt trip, causing the person to fall further and further behind on their goals, or starting all over, which we know can be so discouraging. Many people also consider their exercise to be, “all or nothing.” Slipping up once, means its just not going to happen for them. This is ridiculous!
So you skipped the gym, so you had that cupcake, is it worth throwing everything away? Mistakes happen, and so do missed workouts. You may not feel good about it, but it is not the end of the world. Pick up where you left off, because lamenting gets you no closer to your goals. Those who wallow in guilt rather than face their problems head on are more likely to repeat the guilty action, or fall out of the habits entirely. Do not be a victim of your guilt!
Write everything down. Your weight, what you eat, what weight you were using for your reps, everything. By having the information handy, not only can you see where you are progressing and have a better understanding of how to increase your intensity at a reasonable rate, but you can also see where your weaknesses are.
Does your weight shoot up after a lazy weekend? Are you not eating as healthily as you should when you’re out of the house? Tracking your progress on a regular basis helps you evaluate your patterns, and improve upon them.
Reward Yourself in the Proper Ways that Promote Your New, Healthier Lifestyle
A reward for your hard work should motivate you to move further, not act as a setback. There is something so counterproductive about treating yourself to sweats for succeeding in healthy eating, or taking a week off at the gym to celebrate six months of consistency.
Try little treats that will excite you about your health and fitness – a new workout outfit or a new piece of equipment you’ve been eyeing, new supportive shoes, a day at the beach, a new supplement, or something that reminds you of what it took to achieve.
Also, ensure that the reward match the accomplishment; losing that first ten 10lbs is a huge step in the right direction, but not quite worth that trip to Africa. Save that for your last ten lbs when you can show off your beach body with pride.
Most Importantly, Never Stagnate!
Continue to make regular, active goals, even once you have achieved your milestone. The ceaseless drive to improve and the endless pursuit of success will always enrich your life. Once you have achieved your endpoint, strive for personal bests, better diet, harder muscles, anything that will keep you chasing happiness and health! The fulfillment of your triumphs will inspire others, and leave many memories for you to be proud of.
What do you want to achieve? What are you waiting for? You can do anything, as long as you make those first few steps.
Dwayne Girvan Photography