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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goal Setting

All In My Twenties

Everyone has goals and ideally wants to keep them. So how do we go about doing that? Here are my personal tips on setting goals and keeping them. For the purpose of these tips, I'll use the goal of weight loss because most can relate to that.
So, what is the big picture? What do you ultimately want to achieve? That's the first question and usually one that we can figure out. Starting with the example of weight loss, weight loss is ultimately the goal, right? So there's our big picture. But keep in mind, we can't stop there or it's likely there won't be success. 

I found this on a website a long time ago. It makes sense to me, so thought I would pass it on. SMART is an acronym and it goes as follows:

S - Specific (or Significant).
M - Measurable (or Meaningful).

A - Attainable (or Action-Oriented).

R - Relevant (or Rewarding).
T - Time-bound (or Trackable).

As this is pointing out, we need to be realistic about our goals. I'm in college and we do a lot of research. This system of SMART goals is almost like an experiment in a research paper. So, let's say you want to "look better" that isn't specific, you need to point out what it is you want to address. Making sure its measurable basically helps with motivation and keeping track of progress. If you can't measure it, it's likely you won't continue for long because you won't be able to know if you have succeeded. Attainable would refer to if it's physically possible, how realistic the goal is. Relevant or rewarding would be pretty self explanatory. Time-bound is useful for motivation and progress. If you have a deadline, you usually work hard to keep it. 

Here is a concept I'm a HUGE fan of: Break it down!! You can't just say I'm going to lose 30lbs by December. That might be the big picture, but you need to break it down to help measure and motivate you to hold on to your goal and be successful. It's the little victories that count. For example: you want to lose 30lbs by December, but you want to break it down to 7.5lbs each month and maybe break it down further to about 2lbs each week. (btw I'm completely making this up, I wouldn't follow this example exactly I am no expert in weight loss) Breaking it down into little or baby goals/steps helps you keep on track. It also prevents you from say, slacking off in the beginning months and trying to make up for it in the ending months of your goal. Then when you break it down, it leads to my next point...

This is a big deal for some people and for others, the achievement is enough. For the rest of us that need a little push in the motivation department, rewarding yourself is a good idea. Now, that isn't to say, you keep dieting and you have lost your goal weight that week therefore you can eat an entire chocolate cake the next day (though that sounds pretty tasty). That wouldn't be effective and that's kind of the idea you need to keep in mind when thinking of your reward. Effectiveness needs to be judged in two ways: first how effective is it going to motivate you and second how effective is it towards your ultimate goal.
Keeping those factors in mind, the chocolate cake, although effective in motivation, not so effective towards your big picture. Get what I'm saying??
This part is very personal, what works for some might not work for others. So here are a couple examples: Say you'll buy yourself something each month if you meet your mini goal of 7.5lbs lost. Examples could be workout clothes, ipod for helping with runs, a gym membership, a blender for smoothies...any ideas of your own stirring up?
Maybe money isn't the way to go for you, so what do you do then? Think social, maybe you can reward yourself by going out with friends or doing something you haven't done in a while (because you were so focused on your goal, duh) in this reward, you might have to limit yourself first before you can free yourself as a reward, making sense?
There are other ways to motivate in the sense of rewards, which leads me to my final point...

This is another one I love. Making your progress visual is a big deal for some. To be able to make something visual you have to first make sure it's measurable in some fashion. An example found on pinterest would be: 

On another note of making it visual, you can keep a board somewhere in the house, a poster maybe. That is full of motivational things like those found on pinterest and the like. Here the idea is moving marbles from the weight you've decided you want to lose from one container to the next which is labeled weight you loss...LOVE the concept. Can be varied in many ways, like if you're a runner, you can set a goal of miles for that month and move the marbles over as you complete the miles. I love things like this.

I hope all this was helpful. A few other tips that I'd like to add to help keep a goal are:
  • Find a "coach" to motivate you
  • Get someone with similar goal to do it with you
  • Set boundaries
  • Keep a journal
  • Be honest to yourself

Until next time!!