Who doesn’t like the fresh feeling of the new year? The holidays and gift shopping are behind you, and now you have time to focus on your health and fitness goals. The new year brings hope and optimism. For many of us, that’s enough motivation to get started on a healthier path. With 2020 in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to set goals to help you be successful in 2021. Before you dive into setting goals, you want to make sure that your goals turn into achievements. There are a few things to consider to make that happen. Very few people understand how to set goals and accomplish them. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 42% of people give up on the new. year’s resolutions after the first month. Now that’s a hefty number. That’s why I don’t believe in resolutions, but I am all for goal setting. According to the same research institute, only 9.2% of all people feel that they successfully realize their New Year’s resolution. Are you wondering the reason why the success rate of resolutions is so low? Because resolutions are abstract, like dreams and hope. Goals are SMART-Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Don’t worry if you have new year’s resolutions. You can turn those resolutions into goals and achieve them successfully.
Here is how to create achievable and successful goals.
Own your goals- Your goals should be YOURS. Owning your goals is the most critical step in realizing them. Setting goals because your friend or family member wants you to will not work unless you believe in it. You will not work hard to achieve the goal. Taking the inside out approach for goal setting will help you create your WHY. Those goals will have a meaning for you. Once you set your goals, share them with your support group so that they are aware and able to keep you accountable.
Write down your goals- It sounds simple enough, but many of us have the goals all in our heads. Grab a paper and pen and jot them down. Clearly describing goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success. According to research and people who vividly describe or picture their goals are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish their goals. Neuropsychologists have identified that we demonstrate better memory recall for the material we generate ourselves than what we’ve just read. Writing things down doesn’t just help us remember. It makes our mind more efficient by focusing on the most important things. And your goals should be important and a top priority.
Let go of the negative thoughts- Goals are scary. There is a lot of self-doubt involved. Maybe you’ve tried before and failed. Maybe it’s your first time doing it, and you don’t feel like getting out of your comfort zone. When you write down your goals, write down the negative thoughts too. Reframe the negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, if you want to lose 5 pounds in 3 weeks and the thought in your head is, “I can never do this. I don’t even workout.” Reframe the thought to “I will try to lose 5 pounds in the next three weeks. I can learn to change my lifestyle, and I will start working out this week.”
Make a plan- To achieve a goal, break it down into small steps. One of the best ways to set a goal is to set small tangible milestones associated with the goal. No one can run an Ultra Marathon on day one. It takes dedication and smaller mileage goals to get there. So, break the goal into manageable smaller goals like I will run 10 miles this week. I will increase my mileage by 2 miles every week.
Put it on your calendar- Once you have your list of goals, grab your calendar. Find the time and schedule each task on the calendar like an appointment. If its on the schedule, then at 12 pm on Tuesday, all you will have to do is lace up and go out for your run.
Reward Yourself for Your Efforts- Research shows it’s easier to reach the goals if there is an extrinsic reward for small victories along the way. In the book, Th Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains three steps to a habit loop: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Create small meaningful rewards for your small goals. For example, if you are training for a marathon, buying your favorite running pants after building your base mileage is a worthy reward. Celebrate your small wins
Practice self-compassion- It’s challenging to reach new goals. Mostly our goals mean to stretch, to grow, and to try new things. There will be times you will fall off your schedule. Show yourself some grace in those moments. If anyone deserves kindness, it’s you. No one is perfect. Everyone falls off the habit loop. Research has shown that using encouraging and supportive mantras is vital to keep moving forward and achieving your goals.
Successful goal setting starts with recognizing YOUR goals and planning to achieve them. Goal setting is about recognizing the changes that will make you happy. You are the owner of your goals, so remember what matters to you while setting your goals. What are you waiting for? Apply the tips above to reshape your future and start working towards a better you in 2021.
About the Author
Aesha Tahir is a health and wellness coach and a certified personal trainer. She holds a Master’s degree in Applied Exercise Science and is certified by the NASM as a Personal trainer. She is a certified USA Track and Field and Road Runners Clubs of America Running Coach. She is a 200 HR Registered Yoga Teacher. She is also a group exercise instructor specializing in barre, spinning, strength training, boot camp, and yoga classes. She has over five years of experience in the fitness and wellness arena with focused expertise in coaching, corrective exercise and injury prevention, individualized fitness programs, and group fitness programs. She is also an aspiring public speaker in the fitness and wellness world who believes in this quote; “To be inspired is great, but to inspire is incredible.”