(yours truly, accomplishing one of my 2012 goals. I reached this goal and several others with the action plan detailed below)
I saw a post on Facebook the other day: “My new year resolutions: to read more, watch less t.v., and be healthier!” Honestly, those are things that I’m pretty sure most of us would like to see change in our lives. The problem here, is that there’s no action plan. And this is the larger issue with most resolutions. A resolution is a general statement of intent. A vision of where you would like to be in comparison of where you are. However, if you’re serious about making a positive change in your life, then you need to think about what the steps are that will actually get you there. Remember, it’s not just about knowing what to do, it’s about knowing HOW to do it. And this brings us back to the title of this post: should you make resolutions or set goals? Since we’ve already discussed that being resolute provides you with little more than a jump off the starting blocks, setting exact goals is where actual change comes from.
Setting Goals - Now we’re talking about a specific action plan, a roadmap to your own personal success. When we think of the general idea of a better us, we likely know what is missing from our life to reach that goal. You are your own best expert. You probably already know what you really need to do to become the best you ever. The problem is that even though you’d like to, you’re not currently doing those things, or at least not enough.
With that, let’s discuss the goal setting model I use with all of my clients who tell me they’d like to ‘lose weight’, ‘tone up’, or ‘be healthier’.
We turn to the S.M.A.R.T. model;
Now the reading more and watching less t.v. behaviors will be covered in another post. However, any of you who have taken psychology 101 probably recognize that watching less t.v. and reading more are great replacement behaviors for one another. The action plan for those goals is actually pretty simple.
Instead, let’s take a look at the resolution to be healthy and see how we can turn it into a goal that could actually be reached.
Specific: What is your definition of healthy? Now since I’m a personal trainer, you already know where I’m going for this post; to exercise more. However, being healthy is a very individual thing and while I recommend you do a little research, you are again your own best expert. Step one though, should be to think back to the best you have ever felt. What were you doing then, that you’re no longer doing right now? Exercising? Eating all-natural? Meditating? All are good factors. I really like exercise as the first goal you add in, and will discuss why later this week.
Be Healthier »> Exercise More
Measurable: You can’t just say you’re going to exercise more. It’s still way too vague of a goal and how exactly do you even track that? More? More than what? More than last year? But you don’t even know how much you worked out last year. We need to be more dialed in here. Currently, I set my workout goals based on an entire calendar year. I have a small sheet on my fridge with 304 check boxes. That’s how many times I plan to work out this year. Each time I workout, I check a box. For me, it’s a pretty simple way to determine if I’m meeting my goal or not.
Exercise More »> Exercise X times each month
Attainable: This piggy-backs off of the previous factor. We’re still going to focus on simply going to the gym or exercising here. When we consider whether or not it’s attainable, we must now look at our life and see what’s realistic here. Going to the gym 500 times this year is probably not realistic. Going to the gym 12 times this year won’t be effective. Again, you must strike a balance.
Exercise X times each month »> Exercise 16 times each month
Relevant: Simply because you’re going to the gym doesn’t mean you’re going to become healthier though, yes? Our gym offers computers with free internet. I have seen people walk to our café, get a smoothie, and browse through Facebook for an hour or so before heading home. I guarantee that somewhere in their brain, they considered this exercise. Up until now, they would still be adhering to all of our goals. Even when you go to the gym, you need to have an action plan once you get there. Don’t worry; I’ll help provide you with a roadmap to kick butt in the gym. That post is coming soon!
Exercise 16 times each month »> Exercise 16 times each month alternating between 40 min. of lifting one day, and 30 min. cardio the next.
Time Based: The final criterion is designed to help you stay on track when the day-to-day demands of your life try to take over. Time-based goals can have two different focuses, and we will use both. Long term, we know that we’re looking to accomplish this goal within the calendar year and further breaking this goal down into monthly chunks.
The second factor is how you will manage this goal on a daily basis. When during your day will you be most likely to succeed in exercising? Early morning? Right after work? Late evening? It may take a little tinkering, but be realistic about when will work for you. If you’re a night owl, you’re not going to regularly workout at 6:00 AM, no matter how ideal that sounds.
Alright! Now we’re ready to kick some ass baby! Let’s take a look at the final goal and see how it has evolved by using the S.M.A.R.T. protocol.
Be Healthier »> Exercise 16 times each month, at 5:30 PM, after work. Workouts will alternate between 40 min. of resistance training one day, and 30 min. of cardiovascular work the next day. Workouts will be tracked by checking off a sheet on my fridge.
Now, you’re armed with the information need to set your goals for 2013. Take some time, think about what you want out of life and yourself. Then, get specific. Real specific. Once you know what you want, you need to determine how you’ll get there. While this template should help most people determine their goals, I realize some of you may still hit a roadblock. If that happens, please message me and I’ll try to help you clarify your goals and action plans. Check back soon for more posts on how to kick some serious butt in the gym and at life!