January brings a fresh start and a chance to redefine yourself. If you’re like most people, you resolved to lose weight, quit a bad habit, become more organized, or get out of debt. And, like most people, you might have made these same resolutions before, but have yet to meet them. Make this year different — set achievable goals, and create a plan to reach them.
Goal setting helps you gain mental control by choosing where you want to go and finding ways to get there. Here are some tips to stay on target:
Think Positive. Write your goals down using active, positive language. If a goal is not written, it is merely a wish rather than a concrete objective, and you assume no accountability to make it happen. Putting it in print helps crystallize your thoughts and focus your energy. Use action words such as “eat” and “attend.” Apply a positive statement rather than describing what you won’t do. Instead of “I’ll quit smoking” or “I’ll stop eating sweets,” resolve to “chew a piece of gum after lunch instead of lighting a cigarette,” or to “eat fruit each day in place of 1 sweet item.”
Clarify. Describe what you will do in certain terms. For example, instead of resolving to “get in shape,” plan to “walk for 30 minutes, 5 days next week.” When you are specific you can narrow it down to exactly what you want and proceed to accomplish it.
Set benchmarks. Make your goals measurable and monitor your progress as you work toward them. Aim for small, target objectives to along the way. Include dates, times, and amounts so you can measure your achievement. If you do this, you’ll know when you have reached your goal and can take satisfaction in having done so. “I will read 4 books of more than 100 pages before next Christmas” gives you a gauge. “I will become a better reader” does not. What gets measured gets done.
Be realistic. Your goals should make sense for your lifestyle, skill set and starting point. If your exercise program has never included running, then resolving to run 3 miles a day right off the bat is a recipe for failure. However, it’s practical to plan on going for a slow, 30-minute jog two days next week, and incrementally increase your jogging duration, speed, and frequency. This is a do-able plan. You will get to your personal finish line 1 step at a time.
Be accountable. Set timeframes for the goal and each small step to reach it. Use language like, “by the end of the week” or “in 3 months. Setting time limits makes each action more urgent, so you feel pressed to do it. Without end points, your commitment is too vague, and you tend to put it off because you feel you can start at any time.
Create a support network. Find a sympathetic partner, who also wants to lose weight, quit smoking, or eat more healthfully, and make plans to accomplish each step together. Hire a personal trainer to help you design a fitness strategy. Tell family members, co-workers, and friends about your goals, and ask them to champion your efforts. You’re more likely to stick to the plan if you know someone else is counting on you to do so.
Recognize success. Track your accomplishments in a journal and keep up the good Adderall online work. Recall how you looked and felt before you began walking daily or eating more healthfully, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Use the new year as an opportunity to set goals for yourself, and set yourself up for success. With a step-by-step plan, you’ll get where you want to go and feel energized all the way there. Let’s ring in a happy new you!
Janet Franz has served on the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports since 2004. She is a freelance writer covering health, recreation, and community news for print and online media. She is a wellness educator, group exercise instructor, and personal trainer who works with clients at health clubs, worksites, and community spaces around Chittenden County