How often do you reach your own goals?
If the answer is ‘not very often’, you may need to revisit your goal-setting strategy.
Whether you want to see improvements in your health and fitness, or better relationships, the change you want is unlikely to happen without a clear set of goals. Knowing what you want is just the first step – knowing how to get there is as – if not MORE – important.
So how do you set goals that lead to success? You might already have heard about SMART goals, but making them SMARTER is even better (and a lot more fun). This means setting goals that are:
The goal must be clear and concise. Vague goals, such as “I want to get healthy” don’t tell you, or anyone else, what you are aiming for. This makes it difficult to know when you’ve reached the goal. It might be worth looking at things like being able to fit into a specific pair of trousers or being able to get to the end of that 5k run without stopping – or other specific activities like getting out on a walk or doing some guided meditation.
The goal must contain measurable criteria for tracking progress. If your goal isn’t specific, you can’t measure it. Ensure your goal has a clear measurable component that you can track to see how close you are to the desired end point. If you are thinking about weight loss, the scale and the tape measure will be needed. You might well want to use both – sometimes the number on the scale doesn’t give the full picture. Or you might be measuring how long you can run, how many Zumba classes you attend, how many times you listen to a sleep story.
The goal must be practically possible, yet still challenging. While it is important to make sure that you can actually achieve the goal, the goal must also challenge you sufficiently, to motivate you to spend time and energy pursuing it. For example, if you find it relatively easy to get outdoors to run, the goal is definitely achievable. Now consider, is it challenging enough? Reaching your goals are even more satisfying if they feel that they are a bit of a stretch – a target that is slightly further out of your comfort zone than you are used to.
The goal must be realistic in the long term. It is important to ask yourself, “can I actually do this?” and “is it realistic given my current circumstances?”. Not in a self-doubting kind of way, but in a rational, carefully thought-through way. Thinking about goals that might relate to losing weight or exercise, there is a sweet spot between setting goals that feel a bit of a stretch and setting those that are over-optimistic or that require time that you just don’t have.
The goal should be grounded within a specific timeframe. When will you do this by? Having a scheduled completion date greatly increases your odds of reaching your goals. When you know your cut-off date, you know how to pace yourself and prioritise your time, energy, and resources. It can really help focus your energies and keep you motivated as you check in with yourself towards the end of the timeframe. A bit like that extra burst athletes get at the end of the race as they sprint towards the finish.
And now come the BEST bits…
The goal must be enticing and inspiring. Does the thought of the goal excite you? Many people pursue goals because they feel they ‘must’, ‘should’, or because others want them to, rather than because they truly want to achieve the goal. Make sure your goal energises you and is personally motivating. Focus on what will be possible for you when you reach your goal. How will it really feel when you achieve what you set out to do? I want you to get really fired up by your goal!
The goal must offer a clear reward. This can be an extrinsic reward (something tangible such as money, awards, savings, or prizes), or intrinsic (joy, happiness, mastering a skill, or satisfaction of a job well done). If you aren’t getting some benefit or reward for reaching your goal, your motivation is likely to dip. How will you reward yourself? What will feel like a real win? Remember, since we’re in the world of wellness, I’m not talking about having a big blow-out at the end of a diet but something more nourishing of the soul…
You can complete the following statements/questions to help you set your goals:
- My goal is…
- It is clear and specific in the following way…
- How will I know if I’ve achieved it? I can measure success in the following way…
- My goal is realistic because…
- What are my time frames? By when will I have achieved this goal?
- What is exciting about this goal? What inspires me?
- What are the rewards? How will this benefit me and my life when I have achieved it?
If you’d like some help with setting and achieving your health goals, please contact me.