Time does go quickly these days, how much time has passed since you started those New Year’s Resolutions? Or maybe you have labeled them as goals, improvements or something similar, maybe you have only just set your goals – after all there is no rule about when goals should be set. Whatever it is you decided to call them or when you made them they were made because you wanted to set yourself a challenge in your life and make changes. So how are these goals going, are you still working towards them, having fun? I find that it is always good to re-look at those goals and assess a few things, because sometimes that list is great on paper but when it comes to fulfilling the goals things become a little more complicated. So let’s take a look at a couple of questions to ask yourself.
Are Your Goals Specific?
When you made your list you may have had certain ideas in mind about what you wanted to achieve (for the purpose of this article we are looking at your health and fitness goals), maybe one or more of the following is on your list:
- Join a gym
- Start running
- Lose weight
- Gain more muscle
- Be able to run further
- Run faster
- Learn yoga
- Eat healthy
- Give up sugar/coffee/etc
- Get stronger
- Run a marathon
That list could become rather long, so I will stop there.
Now you have had time to set your intentions in motion you can look at the goals you listed and see if they are indeed what you wanted. Is it something you really want to achieve, giving up sugar is great but is this a realistic goal? Maybe you just want to reduce your intake, or give up adding sugar to your cereal or coffee, or give up sodas. Remember freshly squeezed fruit juice has sugar content, natural sugar… maybe you do want to give up something but is it just for a set period or is it forever? Be realistic about what you are trying to achieve.
Maybe you can alter your list to be a little more specific.
If your goals are already specific, with a set time plan and step by step guide on how you will achieve them, then you can skip to the next section, if you wish, as you are already on to a fine start. For those who need a little more guidance keep on reading.
So you may have been a little vague with your list. For instance, who wrote on their list ‘lose weight’ and that was it, no other detail? Or any other goal that has a similar sweeping statement, was that a slight nod of agreement? Well, may I suggest that you need to think about what it is you really want e.g. how much weight do you want to lose or maybe it is not about losing weight but changing the way your body looks i.e reducing body fat, firmer body.
Gain more muscle? Did you have in mind being stronger – so you want to be able to lift a certain weight or be able to do pull ups etc? Or did you want to become more sculpted, leaner.
Run further – how much further? Set a distance.
Faster – did you have a speed in mind over a set distance?
Maybe your New Year’s Resolution was simply to join the gym, that’s an easy one, head to the gym, have a look around, fill in some forms, pay the money and there you go you have joined a gym, tick it off as done.
But did that give you the result you were looking for? It’s a great start but what is it you want to get out of the gym? Maybe joining the gym is not the only way to achieve your specific goal, maybe it can be achieved through a different method but because you have not written down what it is you actually want then you cannot start to look at the best and simplest way of achieving it.
With all the above they are a bit vague, the overall intention or idea is there but you need to put in details, the following are some suggestions for being more specific:
- Lose x lbs
- To be at x body fat %
- Chest press x weight
- Squat x weight
- Do x pull ups/push ups
- Run x distance in x time.
- To be able to do x yoga pose
- Eat x amount of fruit/veg per day
- Drink x amount of water per day
- Run x marathon on x date.
- I want 2 cheat days a week – did that take you by surprise? You make your own rules.
You get the idea.
When you set yourself a goal you need to be specific with what you want to achieve, this can then make it possible to measure your progress and eventually attain your goal. You can be proud of your progress and achievement and reward yourself (plus you get to tick it off the list, put a line through it or scratch it out – whichever gives you more pleasure). Once done you can even expand on it – by setting a new goal.
Time is another factor to add in, when do you want to achieve it by is there a specific date (a holiday planned, a marathon booked, a wedding) or is it more general, in a week, a month, 3 months, a year? One you have your specific goal and the time frame you can easily start to form your step by step plan on how to reach each of your goals.
Where Are You Now?
As we are 2 months in already you will most likely have already started working towards your goals, even if they were not very specific to start with, so it’s a good time to consider the following:
Is What You Are Doing Working For You?
So you started and had a plan but is it working, are you seeing any changes, have there been improvements? Do you have the time needed to achieve these goals?
Have You Given Up Already, or Had A Set-Back?
If you have already stopped working towards your goal or have missed a few sessions, or not sticking to your healthy eating plan it is perfectly fine and normal. Don’t give yourself a hard time, but don’t give up completely. Look at what happened and the reason for the blip, address these issues, make the necessary adjustments and get right back out there. No one said it was going to be easy but make it easier on yourself by finding what works for you and what you enjoy.
Maybe the goal wasn’t realistic and needs adjusting or maybe you decided to run every morning, yet you are not a morning person so have been unable to stick to your intended schedule. Maybe you just don’t like running. There are alternative ways to do things you just need to find what it is that keeps you motivated.
Help With Staying Motivated
Ok, here are just a few suggestions that may help you with your motivation and keeping you on track. One thing to remember though, you need to want to do this – after all it is only you that can make changes.
Find Like Minded People
Some of us do better when we have extra support. Join a group or get family or friends involved. When you have someone to help motivate you it can make a big difference, it is easy to let yourself down but if someone else is also relying on you to join them for a fitness class, walk, jog, hike, swim, etc you will be less likely to change your mind so it helps to motivate each other. Equally, if you are trying to eat healthier it helps if those you eat with also have the same goal, or are at least supportive of you. It can help to tell people about your healthy eating goals as you may find that it influences others to take a closer look at what they eat as well.
Alter Your Way of Thinking
Sometimes we can get in our own way, we over think things or we can forget to look at how far we have come compared to where we were when we started. Any steps you have taken to make changes to your life for the better is a step in the right direction, keep going. You may not be exactly where you want to be at this moment in time but you are working towards it which may be more than what you were doing before you even wrote that goal down on your list.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Positive thinking, believe in yourself.
- Take things one step at a time.
- Keep the end goal in mind, always remind yourself why you wanted to achieve your goal.
- Try to keep it enjoyable.
When working towards your goals becomes a chore, enthusiasm drops and your perception changes, it then starts to feel a lot harder to keep going. That’s when you need to make changes, before you give up.
Finding time – Creating time
Time is a big one. These days everyone is so busy and technology has made multitasking easier and we can do so much more in the time we have but yet there still seems to be a shortage on how much spare time we have. Take a good look at your day to day schedule and include all activities, including watching tv, household chores and see where you can make adjustments, if you are really serious about achieving those goals you need to make the time even if it means cutting down on a different task temporarily. You might not be able to fit in a whole fitness class/gym session in but can you fit in some extra squats, push ups just before you jump in the bath or shower, can you walk that bit further from the car park? All the small things add up.
Change Things Up
Your goal is specific, or hopefully it will be after reading this, but that does not mean how you reach it is set in stone. There is usually more ways than one to achieve something. It is important to prevent boredom. If boredom starts to set in there is a danger you may give up as you lose interest. There is also a chance that if you don’t change your routines then you can reach a plateau.
Yes you may be keeping to a schedule but you don’t have to eat the exact same food everyday or repeat the same exercises each session. If you are using exercise classes to help you achieve your goals then there is also a myriad of different classes to try, mix it up a little.
There are many ways to exercise, use all the options that appeal to you and I encourage you to try something new. The key to sticking with something is finding something you enjoy. It is your choice how you choose to achieve your goal, why make it harder for yourself.
Try to think outside the box – go for a cycle ride and take a picnic. Take a dog for a walk, hire a boat for a row on a lake, or kayaking. Try a new type of activity – rock-climbing, dance class, ballet, yoga, pilates, water polo, skipping, skating, horse riding, fun runs. If you have a park nearby with free gym equipment why not try it out, there are also many ways to get a similar workout outside to exercises you do in the gym by using your own body weight, or try a different way of training.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
I repeat this as sometimes missing a workout or eating something considered unhealthy can feel like you have failed, but you haven’t and because you did it once doesn’t mean you can’t get back to where you were and continue.
This was only going to be a quick paragraph or two but turned into a little bit more, I hope you are re-energized to continue with your mission and good luck on achieving those goals.