2016 is fast upon me and already I am planning on things I can do differently. Just like everyone else, I have set resolutions and then by mid January I am wondering why it’s so hard to do. Over the years I have gotten better at resolving to make changes and actually following through with them. Setting goals only to be disappointed in yourself is awful. I have learned a few things about setting goals to find success. The kind of goals I set have been critical for me to make real life changes that have made a difference.
It seems that I am my own worst critic. If I am not careful, I am too hard on myself. The first rule of thumb is to be realistic about who I am and what I am capable of. I don’t say this lightly like I don’t think I am capable, but chances are pretty firm I am not running a 20 minute 5k ever. I do believe I can make improvements in my 5k time however. Another realization is that genetically my body is set… I will never look like a skinny supermodel. I have an athletic built frame and I can not change that no matter what I do. Knowing what my potential is and working with what I have sets me up for success. Which leads me to my second rule about setting resolutions.
Set resolutions that are based on behaviors not outcomes. Many times I have resolved to improve and outcome only to be disappointed, not really recognizing the growth I had made. Outcomes goals set you up on a 50/50 basis… you hit it or you don’t… not the best odds really. I have found I feel better about me when I focus on changing behaviors over time and when I do this my outcomes always improve. Instead of a goal of improved 5k time, my goal would be to incorporate speed drills in my running schedule three times a month. Most likely , if I am consistent with this my 5k time will improve.
Behaviors are things I can work on one day at a time and not get overwhelmed in the thought of some huge outcome goal. Often a goal to lose weight is set… lose 30 pounds, but within just a few weeks when only five pounds is lost the thought of 25 more pounds seems unreachable and the resolution is lost. Setting behavior goals to drink water, stop sodas, eat 3-5 servings of vegetables are goals more likely to be reached and will result in weight loss overtime. Why? because you can do it day-to-day and if you falter at lunch you can be back on track quickly by dinner. We need to see quick results and we can with behavior goals.
Finding success in the little things is critical and the third rule. Resolutions are mental. Keep track of the things you get right, not where you go wrong. Nine healthy meals eaten this week and no sodas instead of focusing on the meals you didn’t get right. Each day right down what went well and ways to make it better the following week. Baby steps lead to great success.
My fourth rule is to go ahead and think about the things that will cause me an issue and plan or prepare for them. If I know I have a big planned event coming where I may be tempted on my food, I usually approach it one of two ways: I decide what I can eat and stick with that or I give myself the right to eat what I want and pick up the next day. This way I am not disappointed the next day. I give myself permission to deviate from the plan and there is no guilt. I pick back up and move forward. Over time, I have found that I get better at not deviating from my eating goals because I am seeing results and I don’t want to… it gets easier.
Knowing how to handle a situation ahead of time helps. If I know my boss brings donuts in every Friday for the staff… what will I do for this temptation? There are a few ways I would handle this: take in a treat that I can eat during this time with everyone else, plan something to do during this time at work so my mind is preoccupied. I usually only fail when I am not prepared to handle the situation. Be proactive versus reactive it will work out better in the end.
Remember that each new day is a fresh start. It took me years to get out of shape and it has taken me years to get back. It is an ongoing process, not a destination you reach and then you are done. Being healthy is a life change, not the one time thing you do and then you are done. Commit to the process of changing. I have decided that this change process allows me to feel good about me and keeps me motivated. I like the life change of new adventures and challenges… new foods and new recipes… new people and new places that being healthy allows me to experience. I have one true New Year goal for 2016… I resolve to continue to be committed to the process of new things in my life and the rest will fall into place:)