Goals are simply the destination you aim and hope to arrive to. They also offer direction for what it may take to achieve them.
Goals should be inspiring from within and created with structure. An action plan must also be executed.
How to Create Goals and Put Them Into Action
Creating goals starts with identifying your “compelling reason” or the reason why behind your desires. This is what inspired you to make changes in your life.
Think about the driver behind your goals, too. Perhaps after reflecting on this, you may realize it is less about seeing the scale tip and more about sustaining healthy energy to play with grandkids.
Ultimately, goals should be tackled on your own terms and aspirations. Making unnatural obligations are more likely to fail if the natural motivation is not evident and apparent. By doing what motivates and works best for you, you are more likely to commit to a newfound lifestyle and reap long-term results.
The most successful and gratifying outcomes come from identifying a goal you personally want to delve into and tackle. After determining your “why,” it is time to take the next step.
Create SMART Goals
Time after time, researchers find one common reason many people give up on their goals. Related to weight loss, they attempt to reach some goal weight that is just unrealistic, maybe even a weight they have never been at or were last at 30 years ago.
What’s more, realistic weight loss goals include losing 1 to 2-pounds per week. However, these numbers can ebb and flow based on how much weight is to lose and other factors that impact weight loss.
So if throwing in the towel based on frustration, more than likely the problem is not the effort, but the goal. And while it is admirable to be ambitious and build up a lofty aspiration, it remains important to be realistic with anticipated weight loss or other goals.
Making SMART (an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals can be the most effective way to meet targets, as they have shown to increase the greatest compliance.
- Specific: Be specific with goals, as generic goals may inhibit proper focus and needed efforts to achieve them. Specific goals should be clear and precise, aiming to answer the questions of who, what, when, where, and why?
- Measurable: A measurable goal is essential to track progress and set deadlines, ultimately keeping you motivated throughout the process. A measurable goal may identify “how much?” and “how many?”
- Achievable: Although goals should be challenging, they still should be achievable. Answering, “How can I accomplish this goal?” can help pinpoint resources and tools needed for its achievement. Potential barriers that you may need to overcome are also surfaced.
- Realistic: Big dreams are admirable, but stay honest with yourself and make goals realistic and within reason. Consider all the abilities and commitments needed to acquire anticipated goals.
- Timely: Goals need target dates and times to keep you progressively moving towards it. A set time frame helps one prioritize everyday responsibilities, keeping desired goals on the forefront. They can assist in accomplishing day-to-day tasks that align with a longer-term target goal, too.
Keep in mind: not all goals need to be weight-based. Solely fixating on weight loss can provoke anxiety, lead to chronic yo-yo dieting, and increase the risk of additional health concerns. Diminish such harmful consequences and shift your focus from strictly weight loss to overall health and wellness.
Not only can adopting a healthier lifestyle naturally lead to weight loss, but gifts a more positive mindset. For example, instead of fixating on the number on the scale, shift the goal to preparing a satisfying breakfast or drinking more water throughout the day.
Consider these areas of improvement and corresponding SMART examples to create long-term goals:
Area of improvement: Skipping breakfast every morning
SMART example #1: “I will prepare a high-protein breakfast each morning.”
Area of improvement: Regularly snacking on chips from the vending machine
SMART example #2: “I will keep nutritious snacks stocked and on-hand to deter the temptation of the vending machine.”
Area of improvement: Drinking 2 to 3 sugary beverages each day
SMART example #3: “I will replace at least one sugary drink with a glass of water.”
Ultimately, goals should be small, sustainable, realistic, measurable, and within reach. So focus on overall health, living, and improvement throughout the entire process and celebrate all victories. This may include fitting into an older pair of jeans, running your first 5K, and simply feeling more energetic!
Consider Past, Present, and Future Visions
We tend to look at the world through three types of vision: Past, present, and future.
Where we are in life now, where we will go, and how we intend to get there dominate thoughts, decisions, and actions. Recognizing the vision you often look through can play a large part in achieving goals.
People with past vision often believe everything significant and important in life has already happened. “I used to” becomes their mantra and they are dominated by the past.
One might look to the past because reminiscing on memories may be easier than deciding a future direction. People with past vision can have trouble accepting new ideas or opportunities and find themselves unable to take any challenging work to completion.
But the fact you are reading these words right now and working towards a healthier you makes it unlikely past vision dominates all thinking.
People with present vision are not overcome with the past, but rather recognize where they stand in the moment.
While living life in the moment is fulfilling, people residing in the present may need a little extra guidance and resources to propel forward.
People who live in the future are creating, refining, and improving on an ongoing basis. The destination, or their “why” and goal, remains their primary focus.
Though they do not live in the past, they do not ignore or deny what happened. They use those experiences to develop skills and inspire enthusiasm to propel forward.
So if you were excited by the thoughts of “running a race,” create a SMART goal such as “I will run my first 5K within the next 4 months by training at least 3 times per week.” Visualize your future self and goals, including crossing that finish line.
Thinking about future goals is also relative to the mind-body connection. Because by tuning into the subconscious mind, our attention can transpire into healthier behavior changes. This subsequently trickles into the health of the body and naturally drive goals towards to the future.
And once you learn to think, plan, and do according to the future, setting goals becomes automatic. Each time you reach a goal, you discover a new beginning and your life becomes a continual journey of progress and positive growth.
To truly drive goals home, though, an action plan must be in place.
Put Goals Into Action
An action plan provides a framework from which we can act out our intentions while bridging the gap between a starting point and when goals are reached. It also eliminates the wide gap of uncertainty between ourselves and goals for the future.
Create an action plan by delving into the strategy and identifying actionable steps to achieve goals. Think about the small victories that will get you to where you want to be, step-by-step. Then, knock off each of these accomplishments one at a time.
Identify actionable steps you can take to make sure you meet your goal. For example, if your goal is to exercise more, action-based tasks may include the following:
- I will go to the gym at least twice this week after work.
- I will wake up thirty minutes early to walk the dog Monday through Friday.
- I will try a new workout class at least once a month.
- I will aim for 10,000 steps at five days of the week.
Identify potential barriers that may stand in the way of you and prospective actions, too. For instance, an uncertain weather forecast may bring rain during the time allotted for dog walking. Instead of pressing snooze, use that time to tackle a quick at-home workout. (21-day jumpstart exercise plan - all exercises can be completed without equipment)
Having a planned backup helps ensure the goal can still be met despite unpredicted situations. It enables you to take ownership of the problem, in turn equipping you with grander autonomy and self-efficacy for the future.
Despite a well-executed game plan, goals should and can be reassessed to match new priorities and advance objectives already met. Be adaptive to change, as change is bound to occur.
Proven Tips to Stay Focused and Achieve Goals
In addition to creating goals and an action plan, use these tips to stay focused and achieve goals.
Write Down Goals
Writing down goals has shown to be one of the most effective ways of sticking to them. In fact, research has even shown people who write down goals are more likely to achieve them.
Reading and telling others about your goals can increase motivation and compliance with your action plan.
Jot down your goals so they can be reviewed and accessed easily. This may include a post-it stuck to the fridge or on a notepad in your office.
Use Visual Reminders
In addition to writing down goals, make visual reminders to help keep you motivated. Align these visuals with your “why,” or your personal reason for what sparked your goal in the first place.
An example visual reminder may be a copy of a race confirmation or picture of a finish line. If your “why” is to be healthy for loved ones, include in them in the process. Have friends and family write down motivational words that will truly keep you fueled with inspiration.
These reminders should mostly reflect on how you want to feel, not necessarily material items you want, including feelings of strength and happiness. Modify visions as needed, particularly as views flourish amidst a healthier lifestyle!
Build a Trusted Support Team
Though achieving goals is based primarily on personal efforts, forming support can ease difficult days and empower struggles whenever encouragement is needed the most.
Form a strong support system filled with positive and motivated individuals, including family members, friends, and other loved ones. Support can likewise come from healthcare professionals, including a counselor or doctor.
And remember to confide in bistroMD’s support team, who is there right from the very beginning! Set up free consultations with a personal Registered Dietitian for one-on-one support via email and phone.
Join the online Facebook community to gain motivation and tips from members embarking on similar journeys. Your mybistroMD account also provides the tools you want and the support you need to help you achieve your goals.
Gift Yourself Rewards
Made it to the gym four times per week throughout the entire month? Cut down to only one soda per day? Congratulate all the hard work you have put into your journey! Gifting yourself rewards can motivate you to go the extra mile and continue earning success.
Further worth mentioning, it is certainly okay to indulge every now and then. However, it is important to not continuously reward yourself with food. So if you tackled a rigorous workout, do not actively seek out a carton of ice cream and box of cookies.
There are numerous non-food incentives to reward yourself with, including a new pair of headphones, an hour massage, or simply other “you” time.
Monitor Progress Along the Way
Check in with your goals and action plan each day. Monitoring progress allows you to keep tabs on goals and actions, including whether or not they are taking place.
Also, make note of what worked well, and maybe what did not. If things went well, you might want to expand on goals and make them a bit more challenging. For the things that did not, think of solutions that can help you achieve your goals next week.
We truly can be our toughest critics. But rather than allowing negative thoughts and feelings flood our heads, accept yourself at the moment. Take the time to bask in all the positive impacts you have already made and continue to endure!
Gift your body and brain with acceptance and realize weight loss is an ongoing process and there will be roadblocks, barriers, and obstacles to overcome. Learning to accept unforeseen circumstances helps you overcome them and continue on your weight loss journey.
Stop focusing on the anticipated outcome, live in the moment, and enjoy the ride! Individuals who focus on the process tend to remain more motivated and apt to conquer any sort of speed bumps or forks in the road, ultimately fueling the drive to make it to the finish line.