Fall feels like a new beginning in the same sense that January 1st brings. It feels like the right time to reassess my habits and to set new goals for myself. The most difficult part in goal-setting is knowing where to begin.
Setting goals involves a series of steps. SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable or Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound.
If my new goal is to start exercising then my goal would look like this:
Specific: Work out for 20 minutes 6 days a week
Measurable: Keep track of exercise with an exercise app or write it on my calendar, or be accountable to someone. Increase endurance by 10%, lose 1% body fat and 5 lbs.
Action: M/W/F: I walk for 20 minutes on my lunch break. T/Th./Sat: weight train for 20 minutes after work with a personal trainer.
Realistic: I have an hour for lunch; yes, I can walk for 20 minutes of it. I scheduled training times with a personal trainer three times a week.
Time-bound: By October 31st I will have 24 days of workouts logged
Writing out our goals in this manner helps us put feet and action to our goals instead of just thinking about them. We are setting ourselves up for success and giving ourselves a specific plan to follow to achieve our desired goal. It creates a road map for us to follow and track our progress. When we see progress, we are motivated to continue. When you are not specific in writing out your goals and do not have a way of measuring them by, you will have a hard time keeping motivated. We need to see positive results to keep going.
Let’s look at another SMART goal.
Specific: To eat healthy by following a meal plan and consuming 1500 calories a day
Measurable: I will lose 5 pounds in one month and only have healthy options in my kitchen.
Action: Create a meal plan each week (for 7 days) complete with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Create a grocery list and stick to it. Prepare my meals ahead of time if necessary. Stick to the meal plan 90% of the time, given times where it may not be possible then I will make choices as close to my meal plan as possible.
Realistic: I have access to meal plans, I have the ability to grocery shop according to the list and I have no other interferences to keep me from achieving this goal.
Time-bound: I will keep my food plan for 30 days.
Visualizing your goal; how and why you are doing it and seeing yourself in your mind’s eye helps to make you successful. Spending a few minutes each day visualizing what we want to accomplish, actually seeing ourselves in our mind’s eye doing the action and planning our day accordingly are all tools to help make you successful in accomplishing your goals.