On the first day of January, statistics say that around half of us made New Year’s resolutions. Do you remember yours? Those promises you made to yourself a whole month or so ago, with a vision of creating a happier, healthier, and more successful you in 2014? I’m going to hazard a guess that at a bare minimum 80% of those resolutions were health and fitness related. Whether it was getting fit, losing weight, quitting smoking, getting a six-pack or getting a bodyweight snatch.
So how are you doing with yours? For the few of us who are on track to meeting our goals, power to you! Great job and keep up the good work. Then there are those of us who somehow forgot about our resolutions between the beginning of January and now. For us, perhaps now is a chance to reconsider and take a slightly different approach to goal setting this time around.
The Problem With “SMART” Goals
I’m all for setting goals, without them we wouldn’t achieve much. Especially SMART ones, that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound – for example, the resolution of losing 5kgs by the first of May. You probably read a lot about SMART goals last month, so I’m not going to get into the specifics (read here if you want more details), but basically this goal is a great goal. So, ready, set, go! Right?
The question is, go do what? The big thing missing in all of this is the action plan of how you’re going to get there. If your current nutrition and exercise are progressing well and you’re on track to achieve your 5kg weight loss by May, fantastic! But if not, which is usually the case for most New Year’s resolutions, (otherwise why are we making them?), then something needs to change. As they say “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of madness.” So what are you going to change? Eat a “healthy” breakfast every day? Eat 80/20 paleo? Count calories? Do thirty minutes of cardio five days a week? And what is your crisis plan when you’re at risk of falling off the wagon?
Why You Need to Have a Plan
If you want to achieve the goal, you need a plan. Having a goal without a plan is just a wish, and will probably result in you making the same resolution in eleven months’ time, accompanied with a little bit of regret, guilt, and frustration that you didn’t achieve it last time.
Breaking your goal down into a plan means you break it down into daily chunks. Instead of thinking you’re going to “eat 80/20 paleo for ten weeks,” you’re going to think, “I’m eating 80/20 paleo today.” You can make a plan for each day that involves all the aspects of your goal, be it sleep, nutrition, or exercise. This way you have something you can go to bed each night feeling successful in having achieved. Instead of focusing on the fact you haven’t reached your goal weight yet, you can focus on the fact that you followed your plan today, and are therefore one step closer to your goal. It makes the journey not only a lot less intimidating. Approaching your goal in small bits is also more rewarding because you can pat yourself on the back along the way.
Of course the end goal is the driving inspiration behind the whole plan, but live in the present and celebrate your successes along the way. Each day you execute your plan, you’re one step closer to that end goal. The other great thing about focusing on the plan is that you’re not limiting yourself to your goal. A funny thing happens when I focus on the daily plan rather than the goal and that’s that I find myself making leaps and bounds towards my goal, and getting there much quicker than I’d estimated. So, go ahead and make your SMART goal, but then do some planning – and go get it!
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