Welcome to post #1 of the new Pogamat blog! Let’s jump right in!
As humans, it can often be a challenge to stick to a goal without setting a proper plan in place first. Before we dive in to topics that revolve around specific goals, I thought it would be important to talk about how to set a health goal that is attainable and, perhaps more importantly, how to stick with it. Side note: this is particularly relevant to a health-related goal, however it can be applied to any type of life goal!
How many times have you said to yourself, “That’s it, I can’t take this any more! I need to stop (insert bad habit here)!”? Maybe that includes snacking on junk food while doing work (if you’re like me) or perhaps it’s lounging on the couch watching Netflix for three hours at the end of the day instead of going to the gym. Whatever your weakness, we know that we should be making healthier choices yet we have fallen into a routine where making poor choices has become a habit… a bad habit!
We proceed to tell ourselves that tomorrow is the day that we will stop the bad habit(s), refocus our commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle and, in that moment, we believe that, just like that, life will be forever changed for the better! Wishful thinking, right?! I have been in this position more times than I’d like to admit. The problem with this type of thought process is that we often do not set forth a realistic action plan to reach our goal(s). Without determining our specific end goal, we are setting ourselves up for poor results or complete failure because we have nothing tangible to work toward. In order to have a greater chance of successfully reaching a goal, we suggest the following steps:
Step 1: Pick one goal at a time. START SMALL!
Step 2: Change your mindset.
Step 3: Get specific.
Step 4: Have an accountability partner.
Step 5: Make the goal as seamless as possible.
Too often, we put too many eggs in one basket. For example, we decide to not only start working out, but we are also going to give up sugar, get 8 hours of sleep each night, begin a juicing diet and start meditating, all at once! I don’t know about you, but I am already overwhelmed! While these are all wonderful goals to strive for, choosing to begin everything at once can be a sure-fire way to fail at all of them. When we set unrealistic goals for ourselves it puts undue pressure on us before we have even begun the task at hand! Start by setting one specific, realistic and attainable goal. Work to reach success in that first, then you can slowly begin to incorporate additional lifestyle changes into your routine. The more you are able to see successful results one goal at a time, the more you will be able to achieve in the long run.
According to U.S. News and World Report, some 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week in February. The cause? Failure to enhance your ability to support consistent motivation or to handle the inevitable stress and pain involved in change. Essentially, any change will inevitably cause stress and this newfound pressure can often lead to self-sabotage. So how do we overcome this obstacle? We should be prepared to expect a state of emotional change any time we are making a physical life change and understand that some stress will follow. We then have to begin to develop self-discipline like a muscle. Recognize that there will be friction with change and that once you begin to see results, that friction will become easier to endure.
According to Tim Ferris, when trying to maintain a new habit, it is best not to expect yourself to follow it at all times. He goes on to say that adherence to habits ebb and flow so if you have a slip (e.g. when you miss a gym day or eat a pint of ice cream), it is better to anticipate that this will happen from time to time. As humans, when we digress in something (such as a goal we are trying to reach) we often end up scraping the whole thing because we become so down on ourselves for it. If we keep in mind that, by human nature, we are bound to have slip-ups now and again, we can take these setbacks in stride and move past them.
While I am sure you have heard this one before, sometimes, important points need to be reiterated. This one is extremely significant; perhaps the most important step in this process. Many people resolve to start exercising, but quit a few months later because they don’t see results. In order to best achieve long-term success, be clear about what you want to accomplish. One of the best methods to setting a specific and strategic goal is using the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goal process. The more specific you get, the better you can track and determine whether or not you have made progress toward your goal. Here is an EXAMPLE of goal setting using the S.M.A.R.T. system:
Specific : I will lose 20 pounds in 6 months by working out at the gym 5 times a week for one hour each day so that I can be fit and healthy for my wedding day and lead a more motivated and energetic life.
Measurable : Weigh yourself regularly on the way to reaching your target date (i.e. once a week every Monday after your workout).
Attainable : Consider whether it is realistic for your body to lose 20 pounds or, if you already at a healthy weight, adjust the goal accordingly.
Relevant (Finding the “why” or motivation): I want to lose the weight to look and feel good for my wedding day.
Time-Oriented : I will reach this weight loss in 6 months time.
An accountability partner is another crucial piece to making successful strides toward your goal, however, it is important to find someone reliable and committed. If you don’t have an “accountability partner” (someone going through the same process that you are), simply telling family, friends or coworkers about your goal is a great way to keep on track, especially if they commit to asking you about your progress along the way. When you tell someone your goals it automatically creates some form of accountability because sharing your goals can help motivate you to accomplish them.
Nowadays, there are many gyms out there that create a team atmosphere or fitness challenges around helping you reach your goals. These gyms are great for someone that needs that extra push. Another great and effective idea is to begin a blog about your goals and tracking your progress. Many people have done this and have found that their readers and followers keep them accountable for reaching their goals.
For this particular step, I also strongly encourage you to write down your goals. This could be written in a journal; perhaps dedicate a journal specifically for your health and fitness goals. Additionally, there are numerous apps that will track your goal progress, as well. Some that you might find helpful are the following:
• Productive (habits & daily goals tracker): An app designed to help give you reminders, stats and Apple watch implementation to help keep track of goals.
• Stickk: Helps you stick to a goal by putting it in writing (commitment contract) and gives you incentives to reach it.
• Weightdrop: Simple weight tracker for anybody wanting to gain or lost weight.
• Be Focused: Helps you break up individual tasks and get things done in intervals while tracking your progress.
• Daily Tracker+ Journal, Day planner (by Lumen Spark, LLC): An all-in-one app that lets you take notes, make lists and keep track of everything in your life.
Set your goal conditions carefully. Ideally, you should be making the goal you set easier by organizing and protecting your time to the best of your ability. What do I mean by that? Taking the time up front to clearly set an action plan in place, will save you time and energy in the long run. Once you create a daily and/or weekly routine, and stick to it, it will quickly start become second nature. We recommend sitting down on a Sunday night and writing out a weekly schedule that includes exactly what days and times you will execute your workout or, if your goal is diet related, write out a meal plan for the week. As creatures of habit, when we are able to plan ahead and see the big picture we stay better organized with less chance of it being a flop.
The time is now, all you have to do it start! Now, go get ’em!
What is a goal you want to reach? How are you planning to get there? We would LOVE to hear from you!