I remember I used to be so frustrated when I would go to the gym in the beginning of the year, as the gym would be PACKED! All of the machines would be full and parking was always a nightmare. I also remember feeling relieved when February and March rolled around because the crowds started to become less and less. When I stopped to really think about this, I found my perspective started to change. Sure, the crowds and packed gym could be frustrating but at least people were moving their bodies, working towards a healthier lifestyle, and actually trying to make a positive change for themselves! I then began to feel disappointed when I saw the crowds diminish because I realized people were giving up on their goals for themselves. They were no longer putting in the same amount of effort as they were in the beginning of the year. Somewhere along the way, something changed and not for the better.
Why is it that people get so excited and so motivated in the beginning of the year, just to call it quits so soon after? Because setting goals is really hard. In theory it seems easy, right? I want to do _____, so I am going to do _______. For example, I want to run a marathon, so I am going to run a marathon. Great! Having the idea is part of the equation, but what happens after that initial goal is set? You have to actually implement the goal and the actual implementation of the goal is where people tend to get stuck. So running a marathon doesn’t mean just running a marathon. It means an extensive training routine, dietary adjustments, time commitments, financial commitments, etc. Catch my drift?
So how do you set attainable goals that you’ll actually stick with?
- Be realistic about your goals. If your new goal is to live a Vegan lifestyle, awesome! However, going Vegan is a very big lifestyle change and adjustment. Being realistic about your goals means knowing yourself. Are you someone who can make a drastic change and stick with it? Or, are you someone who needs to ease your way into it. If it’s the latter, then setting a general goal of “I want to be Vegan” may be unrealistic for you as you may start out strong and cut out all animal byproducts completely right away…but then cave when you see your friends eating pizza and wings at the super-bowl party in February. Something more realistic may be, “I am going to start by cutting dairy out of at least one meal a day”. Once you attain that goal, your next goal may be cutting meat out of one meal a day. From there, you may begin to cut dairy out 2 meals a day, and so forth. Easing your way into it is still working towards that bigger goal. The difference is you are more likely to attain that bigger goal by being more realistic about it along the way.
- Tell someone your goals. If you set a goal but then don’t tell anyone about it, the likelihood of you attaining that goal begins to diminish as there is nothing/no one holding you accountable. So, if you set a goal to go to the gym 3x a week, start out strong, but then begin to decrease to once a week.. then to no times at all..you will only have to justify your actions to yourself. For example, “Well I am just so busy…” or “I am so tired after work…” whereas if you told someone, such as a friend, family member, or significant other they can be there to cheer you on and motivate you along the way, decreasing the likelihood of excuses! I always recommend sharing your goals with close friends and family members, putting your goals on social media (if appropriate/comfortable doing so), as well as writing your goals down somewhere you can see them, such as on a vision board or in a daily journal.
- Celebrate your milestones. Working towards a goal is just that, WORK! One of the most effective ways to reinforce positive behavior is to acknowledge that behavior. As human beings, we respond well to positive praise. Think of ways you can celebrate your achievements along the way. For example, each day you work towards your goal, praise yourself and tell yourself what a great job you’re doing! After the first week working towards your goal, tell someone your accomplishment, write it down in a journal, brag about it on social media! Most importantly give YOURSELF credit where credit is due!
- Find a goal buddy. Sharing a goal with someone else is a fun and effective way to work towards that goal as well as a great way to increase the likelihood of reaching that goal! If you and a friend or family member both share a common goal, then you’ll be great motivators for one another as well as able to hold one another accountable. Plus, when you are working towards something with someone, it makes it more fun which means it may feel less like extra work!
- Set small goals. With a new year, people seem to focus on BIG change and often disregard the benefit of small changes. If you have a big goal, there is nothing wrong with that, but setting small goals are just as important. For example, instead of the common diet, exercise, and wellness goals maybe your goal is to read one book a month. Or, maybe your goal is to take your break once a day at work. Perhaps you will work towards treating yourself to a bath once a week, or a manicure once a month. Small goals are just as important and are often more attainable than something big and drastic. So, when you sit down to declare your resolutions for the new year, remember it can be anything, big or small.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. You set your goal, you feel great, you’re cruising along, and then one night you are scrolling through social media and you suddenly start to feel less motivated and less inspired by your progress and efforts. Why? Because you just spent the last hour comparing yourself to everyone you follow on Instagram and suddenly their progress seems much better than yours. If you set a goal, you are setting that goal for YOU. Not for your friends, family, or significant other but for YOU. The way you work towards a goal is going to be based on your individual needs, strengths, limitations, and lifestyle. You are you and only you. Just because you and someone else may have the same goal does not mean the way you both work towards and/or attain that goal is going to be the same. Stop comparing and focus on yourself.
- Enjoy yourself. You set a goal for a reason and while we already established any goal set will take effort, remember to have fun in the process. Goal setting for the new year shouldn’t feel like a drag. You should feel excited, motivated, inspired, and ready. If you set a goal and feel none of those things, re-evalute whether it’s the right time for that kind of change or whether it’s the right goal to be setting. Just because a new year rolls around doesn’t mean you automatically need to do soothing differently. If it aint broke, don’t fix it. Be in tune to yourself and your needs.
I would LOVE to know what spoke to you today and encourage you to comment below and share with me!
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