What is your 2016 new years resolution? Should you have one? Or, are you one of those critics that pokes fun at new years resolutionists?
The starting of the year, for many, embodies a “fresh start,” a way to cleanse themselves of whatever they were doing “bad” in the previous year and embark on a journey to rid themselves of that behaviour or habit, at least for a little while…
Want my opinion on new years resolutions? Well, even if you don’t, I’m going to tell you anyways: New years resolutions, and goal setting in general, are great – if done properly (more on this later). By making a goal you are making an active change towards something. Further, setting a goal helps instill motivation. This is a big reason why I started doing things like Triathlons and other fitness challenges; they allow me to train with purpose. What’s important when making a new years resolution, or any goal, is to flesh it out and make a road map of how you are going to accomplish it.
Let’s use the following example: John Doe wants to lose weight as his new years resolution. John can’t merely say: “I’m going to lose 10 lbs this year.” Rather, John needs to put together a plan; If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. He needs to flesh out this weight loss goal, and really breakdown how he is going to do it.
People often fail to put together a good plan because they don’t know exactly how they are going achieve it, rather they have a rough idea. Using the weight loss example again, most people think that they simply need to eat better and exercise more. Of course this is 100% correct, however a more defined plan is warranted. Let me use the following example to hammer this home a little more: If I’m trying to save money for a down deposit on a house, simply saying that I’ll put $500 from each paycheque into a savings account isn’t enough of a plan. You need to figure out things like: how much do I want to put down (5, 10, 15, maybe 20%?), what would be the average price of the house I’d like to buy and what can I afford for monthly payments, and what are some upfront costs that I’m going to have to absorb from purchasing a new house (furniture, energy and heating costs, etc.).
If you don’t know how to plan out your goal, get help from a professional. So, going back to the weight loss example, caution sales pitch ahead, get a fitness professional (like yours truly) to help you outline things like: how much you need to exercise, what should be your daily caloric intake, and what is a realistic timeline to achieve this goal given your lifestyle.
So how do you set up a goal? There are a few ways to do this, but in the fitness industry one of the more common methods is to make a SMART goal. S stands for Specific, M stands for Measurable, A stands for Achievable, R stands for Rewarding and Realistic, and lastly T stands for timely.
Something I do with my clients is I sit down with them and look at the next two months, see what social events, vacations, or anything else that might get in the way of their goal, and then we set a realistic goal together; this is a good approach because now we are both aware of what might get in the way of our goal in the next two months.
Here is an example of a SMART goal that satisfies each point mentioned by the acronym:
Lose 10 lbs. by mid March. This will be achieved by exercising twice a week with a personal trainer for 60 minutes, and then twice by myself for 30 minutes each. I will adhere to a set caloric diet of 1800 calories per day Monday – Friday by tracking my intake with myfitnesspal.
Click on the image above to see a screenshot of the first page of a form that I use with my clients. Using it, try to make your own goal and see if it satisfies the SMART acronym.
Till next time,