Resolve to Set Goals, not Resolutions for the Year Ahead (Part I)
by Angie Miller
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.”
- Hall of Fame baseball legend Yogi Berra
Last year I wrote a blog about the importance of Setting Goals vs. New Year’s Resolutions. As 2016 approaches I’d like to reinforce the power of goals in helping us to achieve our greatest potential.
Goals are impactful; they give us direction and help us stay motivated. They lead us to accomplishments we might never have thought possible, and they help us begin each day with intention.
Resolutions on the other hand are notoriously short-lived, rarely do they last and seldom are they structured and planned. One of the greatest gifts of goal setting is that goals build our self-esteem. Each time we conquer a goal our confidence gets a boost and we are inspired by our own success.
While goal setting holds tremendous potential, it does take practice to set specific goals that are realistic and achievable. That’s why SMART goals are so popular. Ultimately, goals give us a plan and a plan is all we need to succeed. I’ve developed a Six Step Guide to Goal Setting Success to help start your new year off right.
Six Step Guide to Goal Setting Success
- Set SMART Goals:
Specific= Goals should be as specific as possible. Broad, general goals like, “I want to get fit” aren’t recommended.
Measurable= Goals should be measureable. You should be able to calculate your progress. (You can measure weight, inches, distance, and even load (such as 10 lb. dumbbells vs. 8 lb.).
Achievable= Goals should be attainable. You should be able to reach the goals you set.
Realistic= Achievable and realistic go hand in hand. You want to set goals that make sense, that are realistic given your level of motivation, history, time frame, and physical abilities and limitations. Ideally, your goals should be moderately difficult: Enough to challenge you, but not too difficult where you’re set up to fail, and not so easy that little effort is required.
Time Oriented= Goals should have a definitive start and end point. They should be attainable within that time frame.
Here’s an example of a SMART Goal for Running:
Specific- (Example: Increase my running mileage from 10 miles per week to 16 miles per week in six weeks.)
Measurable- (Example: Each week, add one mile.)
Action Oriented- (Example: Run 3x per week, and add the additional mile to one my runs…For instance: Week One-run two/four mile runs, and one/three mile run. Week Two- run three/four mile runs…Keep progressing in this manner.)
Realistic- (Example: Increase the distance I can run by 10 percent each week so that I can safely work my way up to 16 miles per week in six weeks.)
Time Oriented- (Example: Try my new running program for six weeks, then reassess.)
- Set short and long-term goals: Long-term goals give us direction and guide our future. Short-term goals give us measureable objectives we can work on in the here and now. Short-term goals lead us step by step to our long-term goals. Imagine a staircase. At the top is your dream, or long-term goal. Each step is progressively linked; therefore every step is progress and one step closer to your ultimate goal.
- Record Your Goals:
Writing your goals on paper makes them more concrete. It also keeps you focused. Equally important is that you record your progress to keep you motivated and accountable. The key is to design a simple, efficient workout log that’s easy to reference.
I recommend that you follow the FITT principle when recording your workouts:
Frequency= record the date, the time you work out, and the number of minutes you worked out
Intensity= record your heart rate or rate of perceived exertion during your workout
Time= record the amount of time you worked out
Type= record the type of exercise you did
- Get Support: Enlist in the help, support, and encouragement of your significant other, friends, children, co-workers, or anyone else who might be of assistance in helping you achieve your goals. Give your goals power by giving them a voice. Share them with others so they can be the wind beneath your wings, giving you that extra push when you need it. We’re social creatures, so if you can find someone who shares your goal that’s even better. You’ll have a workout partner and someone to share in your success.
- Know Your Barriers: We all have obstacles that get in the way: I’m too tired, I don’t have enough time, my job is demanding. Write out your barriers, those things that pull you away and challenge your motivation. Then write out ways you will overcome those barriers. We all have barriers, but if we plan ahead and strategize how we’re going to deal with them that’s more than half the battle.
- Evaluate Your Goals: Since you set SMART goals you had a definitive start and end point. At the end of the given time frame that you set, evaluate. Did your goals work? If not, what got in the way? If so, where can you go from here? Small steps lead to big gains. Sitting down and evaluating your goals gives you an opportunity to celebrate your gains and strategize for future accomplishments.
Check back next week. In Part II I'm going to share a Goal Setting Contract, some common problems in goal setting, and a little note on the power of goal setting for increasing motivation and commitment to exercise.
Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com