Sometimes identifying why we want to make a positive change can be easy. It’s putting our thoughts into action that can be more difficult. Don’t get stuck with good intentions only – get moving and start initiating positive changes in your life.
If our goals are too broad, we find it challenging to know where to start and what step to take next. For example, you may want to lose 60 pounds this year. Although it sounds overwhelming, this outcome becomes more accessible when you set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals to achieve it. “I will lose 20 pounds in 2 months (insert a specific date) by following a healthy, balanced diet and exercising at least 90 minutes each week.”
Success toward a SMART goal can be achieved in a number of ways:
- Break the goal in to smaller actions – Think of these actions as the smaller steps that can help you achieve your overall goal. Using our example above, some smaller actions may be:
- Exercise for 30 minutes three times per week
- Eat at least two and a half cups total of vegetables each day
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily
- Set specific deadlines for completion – It is important to realize that all of these smaller actions do not have to be implemented at the same time. Recognizing that your end goal is two months out, it is possible to phase in the smaller action steps in order to gradually change behavior while still keeping your SMART goal in mind. We all know that things are more likely to get done if there is a deadline placed on them.
- Share your goals – Sharing your goals with others helps provide that support and accountability system that we all need. On the tough days, it allows for a support person or accountability partner to help you through and remind you why you started in the first place.
- Reward yourself – We all enjoy being celebrated and we should celebrate our own accomplishments along the way. Just like motivators, rewards can be very individualized. Find out what is rewarding for you and build that in to your plan. Some people find tangible items (water bottles, shoes, or a new workout outfit) to be rewarding while others prefer a meal out with friends. You might be motivated by notes from loved ones or recognition on social media. Whatever your reward system may be, identify it and build it in from the start so that you can enjoy the journey.
- Have a plan for missteps –Show yourself some grace and have a plan in place for days that are hectic or when you or someone close to you gets sick. Knowing ahead of time how you plan to handle those challenges can help you get right back on track and not miss a beat when it comes to reaching your overall goal. We all have days that don’t go like we intend for them to, but the key to success is not letting those days keep us down.
Be SMART about being your best you this year!