A few months ago, a client told me she had a great technique for losing weight. She hung a big sign above her scale that said, “How will I lose the last 10 pounds?”
She weighed herself daily, sometimes even more than once a day, and the sign was meant to motivate her to lose more weight. I was curious about her method, so naturally I inquired more about it. She then went on to tell me, while the sign was meant to motivate her, she could not answer the question of “how,” which is what lead her to me.
With the change of season upon us, many people are setting goals more than ever. But if a goal leaves you feeling hopeless and frustrated, it may be time to re-think your goals, right?
Trust me, I have set countless “goals” that never amounted to anything, because I simply didn’t think about the action behind reaching the goal. I didn’t even have a clear picture of what I wanted to really” be”. It just seemed like I should “lose weight”.
But I learned our life isn’t about a “finish” line, it’s a journey. Instead of thinking of just the “end point”, tell a story. When it comes to losing weight or getting healthy, the tendency is to set the goal at “lose 7 pounds” or just “lose weight,” which can work initially, but gets harder as you lose more weight or feel as though you are depriving yourself. Besides, health isn’t about a number on the scale. It’s about living well, in all aspects of our lives, with energy and passion.
Picture It and Just Be
Begin simply by having a clear picture of the way you want to feel, look, communicate, breathe, be. And live up to that vision with every action. Just by being what you see in your mind’s eye, the need for setting goals is minimized, frustration subsides.
Align Your Actions
One simple way to just “be” healthy, is to ask yourself if what you are about to do is in line with your vision. Going for a walk- yes it is. Being stagnant all day- no it isn’t. Speaking kind words and being compassionate- yes it is. Yelling and getting frustrated at every turn- no it isn’t.
Tell a Story
If you don’t know how to “be” what you envision, you can create what I call “story goals”. For example, you can set a goal of “Eat 4 veggies every day for 21 days in a row.” Now, you know exactly what you have to do to reach that goal, so it removes the frustration of “how.” As we all know, veggies are a healthy addition and will leave you feeling fuller faster while giving you great nutrients, antioxidants and energy.
The 7 pounds you’d like to lose will become a BENEFIT of your story goal. And you’re taking the focus off the scale, which is a benefit in and of itself.
Once you clearly see what you want, it’s easier to create your plan. Hey, you need a destination when you get in your car for a roadtrip, right? And if you don’t know how to get there initially, you need a map, too. Breaking down your vision into mini-goals is a great way to create real changes in your life.
S.M.A.R.T goals are commonly used by authors, trainers, employers and coaches. They are a proven, effective method. Try setting S.M.A.R.T goals for yourself. Remember they need to be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Tangible.
Keep this in mind when setting your mini-goals:
SPECIFIC: The more specific you are when setting mini-goals, the more likely you’ll zone in and achieve what you want. For example, a general goal may be to exercise. A specific goal is targeted: To ride my bike in Central Park four times a week for 20 minutes, and elevate my heartrate to my target zone.
That goal offers you a clear picture, a story line that’s easy to follow.
MEASURABLE: It’s a great tool to set criteria and ways to measure your goals. When you measure progress, reach your targets, feel and see results, you are inspired by your own achievements, and more likely to continue to work hard to create your vision.
To make sure your goal is measurable, ask questions such as: How long? How many? How much? How will I know when it is achieved? How will I know when it is accomplished?
ATTAINABLE: I am a firm believer that nothing is impossible to a willing heart. Believe in yourself and do the work. Commit to your vision and figure out the steps to make it happen. Think about the abilities, skills, resources and attitude you need to create changes. You’ll be amazed at yourself when a goal that once seemed out of reach has become your reality because you’ve stretched yourself.
REALISTIC: You have to factor in who you are as a person, your lifestyle and your current state. Your goals need to align with who you are at the core or else they just won’t stick. You can’t fit a square peg in a circle hole, right? So take the measures necessary to make realistic changes that you are willing and able to work toward.
TANGIBLE: Lots of internal changes need to occur when we create change. Most importantly, remember to keep a positive attitude and mindset. It helps to tie internal changes to tangible ones, so think of the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, hearing. This can help to make it specific, measurable, and attainable.
And remember, S.M.A.R.T goals should answer the six “W” questions.
Who: Who is involved?
What: What do I want to create?
Why: Why is this important to me? Identify purpose and benefits.
When: Set your timeframe. Hold yourself accountable.
Where: Establish a location.
Which: Identify your obstacles and strategize to overcome them.
Remember celebrate your dedication, and be the healthy, vibrant person you were born to be.