Tag Archives: New Year’s

Making SMART Goals Work For You

SMARTrect

 

As promised, we’re going to move from taking our New Year’s resolutions from pie in the sky dreams to actual habit change. SMART goals are popular not only in the fitness world but in business too. The SMART goal system is a framework that allows us to work on our behavior change instead of focusing solely on the outcome.

I learned about SMART while studying wellness coaching through the YMCA, and I think it’s a valuable tool, as long as it’s coupled with some other work.

First of all, as described in the first post of my New Year’s Healthy Habits series, it’s important to spend some time thinking about why you want to make a change and if it’s something that you really feel motivated and passionate about tackling. If not, you’re likely going to scrap the whole thing when the going gets tough.

Also, crafting a useful SMART goal requires creating a habit change that is actually a single habit instead of a string of changes that have to be made. A goal of losing 10% body fat might necessitate the following habit changes:

  • tracking food intake
  • creating an exercise plan
  • actually getting to the gym a number of days per week
  • getting more sleep
  • changing the kinds of foods that you buy at the store
  • making a shopping list and menu plan each week to prep
  • learning how to strength train

Holy buckets, that list looks intimidating! No wonder so many people never even make it past the first week. However, each one of those habits is actually a great starting place for a SMART goal when attempting to pursue that larger goal of losing 10% body fat. That’s really the outcome, not the behavioral goal that gets us there. So let’s take one of those and use the SMART concept to make it work even better.

Getting more sleep
This is one that I need to do better at. It’s important to me because I know that a good night’s sleep lowers my stress, improves my performance in my workouts, and helps me eat better all day. Let’s apply SMART.

S- Specific
We don’t want to be vague here. I’m going to get at least 7 hours a night of sleep instead of “I’m going to get more sleep”.

M – Measurable. This is a bit redundant, but I’m setting my measurement at 7 hours per night. 8 would be a gold star for me.

A – Attainable. Is this a doable goal for me? 8 is pushing it, though 7.5 is my sweet spot. I know that 7 is doable if I make it a priority. If it’s not realistic, scale back here and rework the goal.

R – Relevant. Is this really important for my life? If it’s not something that’s actually important to me, I’m not likely to stick with it. For me, it is because it affects the way my body functions and for my life, it’s a biggie.

T – Time frame. Setting a behavior goal for indefinitely can feel like a huge proposition. If I say “I’m going to do this forever” in the back of my head I’m not very confident that that’s the case. But for the next 2 weeks, I can make a commitment to trying this new habit. If I succeed and feel better, I’m more likely to keep it going. If I fail, I can take a step back and reassess what worked and what needs changing.

Try applying these parameters to a habit that you want to implement into your life. You’ll be one step closer to success! Have a SMART goal that you want to share? Leave a comment below!

 

 

5 Secrets for Keeping a New Year’s Resolution

fist-pump-baby

Today’s the big day. January 1. Many of us have made the annual New Year’s Resolution. Why do so many New Year’s Resolutions fizzle? If you read my last post, you may have been mulling around some ideas for a change you’d like to make. Are you ready to get going on something new for the New Year? Sweet! Use these tips to make a change that sticks.

1. Focus on what you want to change, not what you should change. The word should comes with a lot of baggage. Often it’s attached to ideas that come from what we think others expect from us instead of what’s really important for our own lives. We can rattle off a big list of things that we feel like we should do, but only when we feel that  making a change is really worth it to us do we start moving toward doing something about it. The benefit of change has to be large enough that it’s motivating enough to make it happen.

2. Start small, grasshopper. Focusing on one small habit will lead to more success than vague goals that require changing many habits at once. Deciding to eat a piece of fruit each day is way less overwhelming than making a resolution to lose 50 pounds.

3. Avoid all or nothing thinking. Around this time of year we see lots of bullshit 30 day challenges and detoxes that involve a lot of restriction and high demands for perfection. What happens when we mess up for a day? For a lot of us, we feel failure and then scrap the whole thing. FYI you don’t need a detox. You have a liver for that. I haven’t met a whole lot of people who have had long term success from following highly restrictive diet and exercise plans. The ones who make it have learned to create habits that fit into their lives.

4. Make a plan. We’re going to break this down next week so stay tuned for that. But the plan is hugely important. Do you drive to Idaho without a road map? OK, it’s 2015 now, so GPS. But you know what I mean. Here’s where it goes sideways for most people. They have a goal that excites them but they haven’t spent much time figuring out what exactly they’ll do to get to their destination. Laying out the specifics will set you up for success.

5. Expect detours. We all have the clean slate today. It feels so good to start over. Once we miss the mark on our behavior goals a few times we can get discouraged and scrap the whole endeavor. But if we’re creating a new habit that will last a life time, isn’t it normal to have some bumps in the road? Get back in the seat and lose the judgment. Do you see all my driving and road metaphors? I’m on a roll today. In any case, be kind to yourself. Go back to why you wanted to make the change and regroup. This is for the long haul. Remember why you want to make choices and then decide on your choice the next time.

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Mine is to finally start printing and organizing my family pictures. They’re a mess. My first step is to find an online service to consolidate them all and then make a habit of immediately sharing them when I take new photos. Wish me luck on this very unsexy but necessary goal! Share your resolution in a comment below so we can cheer you on. Happy 2015!

 

Finding Your Why to Get Your What

whyIt’s a week before Christmas and everyone is busy with last-minute errands, baking, and other preparations for the holidays. Probably sometime soon after we’ve all enjoyed a good number of yummy treats to celebrate, we’ll start thinking about the year ahead. With  1 or 10 glasses of wine of course. For many of us, that leads to the annual New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t much like resolutions, mostly because they’re so hard to keep. I do love the idea of a clean slate. The new year feels like an empty notebook on the first day of school, pure and shiny and full of potential. However, after a few days or weeks our enthusiasm usually wanes. Before long the resolutions are forgotten, put away on the shelf until the next year. Rinse and repeat, right?

What I’ve found to be much more successful for creating change in our lives is to focus on our habits rather than the outcome we desire. If we work on our behaviors, we’ll find those end goals a lot easier to attain.

This is the first in my “Healthy Habits” series of how-to articles for the new year that will help you create a road map for those healthy outcomes that can sometimes feel overwhelming to achieve.

Today’s task is simple.
I’ll bet most of us have figured out what we would like to do differently in the new year. Have it in your head now? Great! Now, let’s take a step back. Why is it important to you? Write that “what” down if you want, and then beneath it write why you want to make the change. Hate writing stuff down? That’s cool. Just start rolling around those ideas in your head. There’s no pressure to do anything.

If you came up with a big list of reasons, that’s great! Or maybe there’s one really important “why” on your list that is compelling enough to you to make that a change that you’re ready to work on next year.

Maybe you’re falling short of reasons. If that task was really difficult, ask yourself if that goal was really so important to you after all. Ask yourself how important it is to change. If it’s not that important to you, it might be a sign that the goal isn’t something you’re really ready to work on right now. That’s okay too! Sometimes we tell ourselves that we need to change because we feel like we’re supposed to.  Ain’t nobody got time for that! We’re a lot less likely to make a long term change in our habits if we don’t internally feel like they’re really important to us.

So that’s it for today. Work on your why. It’ll make a big difference in what lies ahead for what you choose to change and how you get  there. Want to share your own what and why? Leave a comment below! Congrats on making the first step in discovering how to make a sustainable change that will last far beyond January.