Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Or do you just have a goal in general that you are working towards? If so, how is it going?? If you’re crushing it, that’s awesome, keep up the good work! But if you are struggling with your goal, let’s take a better look at it and see why it might not be going so well. As far as the New Year’s resolutions go, around 80% of people who make one end up failing by February. Does that mean it’s not a good idea to make a resolution? Well, not necessarily. The reason that most people fail is that they don’t have a real plan or their goal is too vague. Common resolutions and goals are to exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, save money, get more sleep, travel more, etc. These are all great goals, but they aren’t specific and don’t give you any kind of a plan to achieve them. One of my favorite quotes about goal setting is, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
So how do you make a plan for your goal? A great system to follow is making a SMART goal. SMART stands for specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time bound. Let’s take the goal or resolution to exercise more and break that down to a SMART goal.
- To make that more specific, you can say what type of exercise you’re going to do, how many days a week, what time of day, and for how long you will exercise.
- You can measure it by tracking on your phone or a calendar what days you come in and what exercises you complete.
- The goal is action oriented by taking the physical action of going to the gym and exercising. It might also help to sign up for an event to hold yourself more accountable, such as a race or a contest at your gym, like the Wealthiest Loser!
- You make it realistic by not setting your standards too high. Start with a few days a week, maybe only 20 minutes of exercise and slowly build up. Going from barely exercising to saying you will exercise every day for 1-2 hours can be intimidating and a lot for your body to handle, which can cause injury or burnout.
- And finally, the goal can be time bound by setting a timeline for your progress. Maybe after 3 months you want to be working out 5 days a week for 45 minutes, and you can break that down to shorter timelines along the way.
After going through all the details, an example of a final SMART goal would be as follows:
I will exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes, with 2 days of cardio and 2 days of strength training. I will exercise during my lunch break from 12:00-12:30. I will write the days I’m exercising in my calendar and check it off after I complete the workout. After 1 month, I will add speed intervals to my cardio training, increase my weight on my strength training, and increase my exercise to 5 days a week.
That is a great starting point, and you can always add and adjust the goal as you go along. It’s also important to remember that even when you have a plan, sometimes life happens and a workout gets missed, and that’s OK. Missing one workout won’t ruin your progress, so no need to beat yourself up over it or use it as an excuse to quit!
Lastly, I want to remind everyone that you can start working towards a new goal at any time. You don’t have to wait until the New Year. Something about a new year makes people feel like it’s a fresh start, but your fresh start can be today or a random Tuesday in the middle of March. No matter when you start, just make sure you have a plan so you can set yourself up for success!