Monday, July 18, 2016

You've set your goal. Now what?

In March, I wrote about behavior change and it's role in creating and fostering a healthy lifestyle.

Advice on successful goal setting often revolves around some version of a S.M.A.R.T. goal - Specific (or significant), Measureable (or meaningful), Attainable (or action-oriented), Relevant (or rewarding) and Timely (or track-able).

Basically, the research tells us a measureable goal with a deadline is the most commonly reached goal - provided it is important to you and is achievable in your established time frame.

Example: Run more vs. run a 10K by December 31st to feel a sense of accomplishment.

The latter is much more specific and, for the reasons mentioned above, more likely to be achieved. What does 'run more'  mean anyways? Run 2 more steps, run 2 more miles, 2 more days a week?....

The most important part of goal setting isn't the goal itself.

 Approach reaching your goal the same was you would approach planning a vacation. People don't generally hop in the car or buy a plane ticket with no destination, no plan, no clothing, no money, no map. Even "drive until we are tired" is a plan.
The point is, there are a series of behaviors that need to take place in order for you reach your destination.

Determine the behaviors that will help you reach your SMART goal and translate those into smaller, weekly goals. Establishing these smaller, weekly goals gives you a plan and a guide and helps identify milestones and obstacles. This method can also help you evaluate which behaviors are contributing to your success and what behaviors might not be working for you at this time.

Back to our example: Running a 10K on December 31st to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Step 1: Identify behaviors to help you reach your goal.
1) Run 3 days a week
2) Drink a minimum of 64 oz. of water daily
3) Strength training 30 minutes 2 days a week
4) 10 minutes of stretching or yoga 5 days a week
5) Sleep at least 7 hours each night

Step 2: Create your goal tracking sheet. Now sure what that might look like, the one I use is here. Be sure to include a reward. If you reach your goal you get your reward -- if you hit all your goals for the week maybe you get an extra special reward for your effort!

Need an idea to get your started? Click here for a few feel-good rewards.

Step 3: Start tracking and achieving.

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