It’s August now and your list of New Year resolutions was created months ago. How successful have you been?
For many – those resolutions are a distant memory. All you need to do is drive by a health club parking lot in January and then again in March to see the best of intentions have fizzled.
It’s not that we don’t want to develop healthy habits – it’s just so hard…and we’re busy….and it’s too cold….or rainy…..or too hot.
Well it’s not too late to be successful. To succeed in reaching your goals, however, you’ll need a solid plan. Studies have shown that setting specific goals works better than just trying to “do your best.” Making goals can help boost your motivation and confidence, which can lead to greater success! To set yourself up for success, establish a SMART goal.
Specific: State exactly what you want to do. Ask yourself, "What am I going to do?" "Can I measure this?" For example, instead of saying, "I want to lose weight," state, "I want to lose 10 pounds," or "I want to lose five perent of my body weight." Start small; you can re-set your goal once you've achieved it.
Measureable: Establish parameters and set a timeline. If your goal was "to lose weight," you woudn't know how or when you accomplished your goal. Ask yourself, "How can I measure my goal? Do I need to establish an end date?"
Achievable: Your goal should be challenging, but reachable - allow for flexibility. Ask yourself, "Can I do this? Can I incorporate it into my schedule?"
Rewarding: Make yourself an offer you can't refuse. Ask yourself, "Once I reach my goal, how can I reward myself?"
Trackable: Create a way to track your progress and your pitfalls. This will help you identify ways to adjust your goal as needed. Ask yourself, "Can I keep track of my progress?"
The next step is one people often forget - developing short-term action plans to help you reach your goal. Choose a specific action or set of actions that you can realistically expect to accomplish each week that will help you to reach your goal.
For example, setting an action plan such as, "This week I will eat a fruit or vegetable at lunch five out of seven days," can help you get one step closer to achieving your goal of eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetable each day.
Kate Lorig, RN, DrPH, from Stanford University developed these guidelines for writing a successful action plan:
1. Make it something YOU want to do.
2. Be sure it is reasonable (something you can expect to be able to accomplish).
3. Make it behavior-specific (losing weight is not a behavior; stopping eating three hours before bed is).
4. Ensure it answers the questions: What? How much? When? (think about your day/week - which days, times, etc.?) How often? (never make it something you have to do every day - allow yourself at least one day off)
5. Ask yourself, "On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being totally unsure and 10 being totally confident, how confident am I that I can complete this entire plan?" If your answer is seven or above, you have probably created a realistic action plan. If your answer is below seven, then you may want to look again at your action plan and ask yourself why you're not confident. Then see if you can either solve the problem or change your plan to make yourself more confident of success.
So get out your paper and pen, find a quite spot, and work to make your New Year resolutions a reality!