Ask yourself, “would you take a road trip without mapping out a plan”? Probably not. When mapping out your road trip, what’s the most important thing to consider? Your destination, of course, where are you going? Starting a journey without a destination in mind could leave you wandering around aimless, not really getting anywhere. Most people, however, use common sense when planning trips, events, holidays, etc., in order to ensure a desirable outcome. Then why is it that, when it comes to our health, well-being, fitness, and exercise, we don’t apply the same prudent approach as we do when planning other important things in our lives? Why is common sense not so common when it comes to good nutrition and exercise? Many a times, we may have the right intentions, but somehow end up side-tracked and going against what we know to be common sense. Why does this happen? The answer is plain and simple – lack of focus.
Are You Fuzzy or Focused?
It has been said that successful people are successful because they are very clear about their values. Unsuccessful people are fuzzy or unsure. Complete failures have no real values at all.
What’s Important to You? – What do you value?
You must begin by determining what’s important to you. Do you value your health? Is your future well-being and quality of life important to you? Do you value yourself enough to make healthy lifestyle habits a priority? These are big questions that must be addressed before you can move forward to devise a plan.
Set SMART Goals
Most of us have, at some point, made resolutions to eat better, exercise more, or lose weight. But what happens to these resolutions as time goes on? They usually fizzle out. Life gets in the way, and for whatever reason, our resolution fades into the background and is no longer in the forefront of our mind.
Resolutions are often just wishful thinking, and until you put it in writing, it is simply a pipe-dream. Writing out your goal makes it concrete, now it becomes a commitment, and now it can act like a map, guiding you to your destination. Goals are not difficult to set, however, effective goal-setting involves some thinking and planning. The most effective type of goals are SMART goals.
SMART goals are written out so they can be reviewed regularly, and thus, are less likely to be forgotten or neglected. To turn a simple resolution into a SMART goal, you must make it:
- Specific – State in detail exactly what you want.
- Measurable – You must be able to measure your goal in some way in order to know when you’ve achieved it. State specific quantity, time-frame, cost, etc., anything that can be measured.
- Attainable – What are you willing to do to achieve your goal? Goal must be within your control, in other words, you must be in control of whether it can be achieved or not. The achievement of your goal should not be dependent on external factors. By setting a goal outside your control, you are setting yourself up for failure.
- Relevant – You must ask yourself, “Can I do this?” If there is any doubt in your mind that you may not be able to achieve your goal, then you probably won’t put in the required effort. A goal is unrealistic or irrelevant unless you’re confident about achieving it and are willing to give it your 100% effort.
- Time-bound – Set a deadline for achieving your goal. This gives you a target and creates a sense of urgency.
What is an example of a SMART goal?
Not a SMART goal: I want to lose some weight.
- Specific: I want to lose 20 lbs.
- Measurable: Weekly weigh in and recording body measurements.
- Attainable: Eliminating fast food and eating more veggies; exercising 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week, reducing caloric intake and increasing physical activity
- Relevant: Losing 1-2 lbs per week
- Time-bound: target can be reached in 15 weeks
Achieving success is not necessarily difficult, but not easy either. It requires discipline, focus and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Simply stating, ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘I want to be fit’ is not good enough. If it really were that simple, then we would already have everything we want. Whatever your goals are, plan them out thoroughly by writing them down, and review them every single day. This will bring focus and clarity. Clarity is the key to success. The clearer you are about what you really want, the more successful you will be.