Goals are important, they give us a “reason” to commit ourselves and our resources to something. Goals need to be purposeful and meaningful to the person who makes them and how they are set will determine if they are effective or not. Effective goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a starting and ending point.
Goals tend to start as broad sweeping statements such as; “I am going to eat clean for one month”. This statement represents an ambition but what is the purpose? There are many questions that come to mind with this statement. If you don’t have the answers to the questions below, achieving your goal will be harder than you’d like.
*What does it mean to eat clean and why is this important?
*What is significant about the time frame chosen?
*How are you going to hold yourself accountable?
*What does success look like after eating clean for one month?
*How do you measure this success?
Start with specifics to help make this goal smaller and more manageable. Define what eating clean means to you and why it’s important.
Example: “I am going to eat clean for one month”, a more manageable goal is “I am going to replace my processed food choices with whole food choices for one month because I’d like the waist of my shorts to fit better this summer.
This is a more specified goal for one month, there is a behavior to change and we know ‘why’ it’s important. What daily action can we focus on to shrink this even further so it is manageable to track?
Try: “I am going to replace my daily egg McMuffin from McDonalds with prepared food from home. I am going to incorporate one serving of protein, a non-processed whole grain and fruit or veggie in my breakfast.”
Now you have a defined daily habit to track that supports your broader goal of replacing processed food with whole food in an effort to shrink your waist line. Tracking helps accountability, which can lead to success or not.
How are you going to track and hold yourself accountable? Some options could include keeping a daily food journal and/or sending photos of your breakfast to a friend for outside accountability.
This habit needs a timeframe, what is significant about one month? One month is a long time to track a new habit, we suggest shrinking this down to two weeks and then evaluate. Were you successful? If yes, congratulate yourself and repeat it for another two weeks because it takes longer than two weeks to create a new, sustainable habit. If no, what went wrong and why? Without judgement or beating yourself up, adapt the habit until it is easy to accomplish for two weeks without fail. An idea for this specific example may be to make breakfast at home every other day or make your weekly goal four out of seven days.
What does success look like? How is it going to be measured? You want your pants to fit better this summer, as a matter of fact your favorite pair of jean shorts! We suggest trying them on every two weeks or take circumference measurements of your waist to check your progress. You will of course need to take a beginning waist measurement to have something to compare.
Now you have a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic goal with a starting and ending point.
Lastly, we want to emphasize the importance of knowing the “why” behind your goals. Identifying your “why” provides the driving force to what you are doing and will keep you motivated to achieve your goals. This is a different topic for a different day coming soon!
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