With a new year about to begin, many people may be thinking about setting New Year's Resolutions around their health and wellbeing. If you are planning on setting one or more New Year's Resolutions, you may want to brush up on your goal setting techniques.
A tried and testing approach to goal setting is using the SMART goal setting method. This is an approach I often use with my clients and you may also be familiar with it.
SPECIFIC - Your goal should be clear and easy to understand and specific. Simply saying "I want to get healthy" is not specific enough for a goal to have meaning. Ask yourself, what, where, how, when, with whom and why. Use these to state exactly what you want to accomplish, ie "I want to walk 4km's on 5 days of the week before breakfast."
MEASURABLE - Your goal needs to be measurable so that you can track your progress and demonstrate success. Using the above goal as an example, you could track your walk with a pedometer, use your car odometer to map out a track, use any number of apps on your phone (such as mapmyfitness) and also record each walk with the time of day in your diary or simply on a piece of paper.
ACHIEVABLE - Your confidence in being able to achieve your goal will impact on your liklihood of having success. Do not set unrealistic goals, or goals that are too difficult to achieve. There is a balance between making a goal too easy, and making it too difficult/unrealistic. Are the steps that you need to take to achieve the goal able to happen?
RELEVANT - Is the goal relevant to you? Setting a goal of running a half marathon is not relevant or realistic to you if you do not enjoy running, and do not appreciate the achievement of a half marathon. If increasing your walking distance so that you can walk around Europe on your upcoming holiday is important to you, it is relevant and ticks the boxes for a SMART goal.
TIME LIMITED - You need to be specific about when you want to achieve this goal and this links into it being measurable. Using the original goal as an example, I need to specify my time-line. So, the goal may become ""I will walk 4km's on 5 days of the week before breakfast, by Monday the 1st of February 2017." Or, you may make it even more specific, by saying "I will walk 4km's on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday before breakfast every week".
At the end of your specified time period, you may continue with your current actions, or you may re-evaluate and set new goals. Some people also find that setting a reward for themselves for achieving a goal a good motivator for staying on track, therefore this may also be something you could consider.
Small goals can be stepping stones to a bigger goal. Setting short and medium term goals help to break the bigger goal into bite-sized steps, and enables you to achieve success on the way to your larger goal. An example is that if you would like to lose 20kg in 6 months, you may set yourself a smaller goal of losing 1kg every 2 weeks. This way you can measure small success each fortnight and know whether you are on the right track to achieving your larger goal. Achieving the small and medium goals can also help to boost confidence and self belief which can help to keep you motivated.
Research shows that physically writing down a goal increases your chance of achieving that goal. Therefore when setting your goal, write it down. Put it somewhere were you can see it to increase motivation. Getting a buddy involved is also a great motivator in helping people carry out the tasks/actions needed to fulfill their goals. Again, using the above as an example, recruiting a friend to walk with may make that goal more enjoyable, and therefore more achievable.
Achieving more, starts with being SMART!
Happy New Year!