What are your goals for this year? When we arrive at December 2016, what will you be able to look back at to tell yourself you've had a fantastic year and have made progress towards optimizing your health? What would you like to be able to see, feel, or do?

  • 10 pounds lighter? A dress size smaller? A 6 pack?
  • No more Nanna naps? Waking up feeling rested in the mornings?
  • Sticking to a regular exercise regime?

The first step to achieving something is to write it down and then make a plan to get there. If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up someplace else. Set yourself:

  1. 1–3 long term goals (6–12 months)
  2. Break each one down to medium term goals (3 months)
  3. Break these down to short term goals (4 weeks)
  4. Set weekly targets to help you reach your short term goals–one step at a time!
  5. 5. Set daily habits and actions that will help you reach your weekly targets

Your goals need to be SMARTE: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, RELEVANT, TIME SPECIFIC and EXCITING. They should be stated positively, be things you have control over and be things that YOU want, not that others want.

An example of a goal that needs to be re-thought and re-worded:

"By the end of 2016 I want to fit back into my old jeans because my husband thinks I look great in them."

This goal focuses on what someone else wants, not what the actual goal setter wants, thereby decreasing the likelihood the goal will be achieved. This person needs to think about what is important to them personally and then re-write their goal so it is something that inspires and excites them. For example:

“By the end of 2016 I will have completed my first 5km fun run because it’s something I have always wanted to do.”

Why is it important for you to achieve your goals? You must have a strong enough long term emotional reason to be successful in achieving your goals; otherwise it’s unlikely you will put in the required planning, preparation, time and effort required for success. E.g. a goal of losing weight needs to have a personal, emotional driver behind it to determine that it is important enough to achieve and maintain.

Keep asking yourself why you want to lose the weight and eventually you will get to the deep seated pain you want to avoid and/or pleasure you want to seek.

Your first answer to why could be, “I want to lose weight so I can feel fit and healthy.” This is not strong enough. Why do you want to be fit and healthy?

“So I can keep up with my kids, feel confident about the way I look and can avoid having any more heart scares.”

Getting closer now…ask yourself again why the above reason is important.

“I want to lose weight because when I had the heart scare a few weeks ago I was terrified that my kids might grow up without a dad and that I would play a role in that eventuation by failing to look after my health.” (Pain avoiding)

“I want to be alive, fit, healthy and full of energy at each of my children’s 50th birthdays and to know I have been there as a positive, healthy role model throughout their lives.” (Pleasure seeking)

Let’s look at the earlier goal that was established with the person who wanted to complete a 5km run.

“By the end of 2016 I will have completed my first 5km fun run because it’s something I have always wanted to do.”

This is a good goal. It’s time specific, measurable and relevant. We could make it even more likely to result in success by further asking why it is always something that person has wanted to do. This is also where the exciting part of goal setting comes in—it’s the emotional reasons behind the goals that will make a person excited to achieve them.

“I really want to complete the 5km run because I will feel so proud to be able to show my children that consistency and dedication pay off and that I am the role model I want to be. The increased energy I will have as a result of exercising regularly will allow me to spend more quality time with my family, and to feel inspired to bound out of bed every day. I am so excited about this because the opportunities that will result will be completely life changing for me.”

With this extended answer it is likely that this person will have asked themselves why at least a few times.

Once you have gotten to the really important reason(s) for wanting to exercise, remind yourself of them often, and this will be the first step to your success. What’s your why?

So grab a pen and write down your goal(s) for this year. Then, following the principles above, break them down into smaller goals, targets and habits so that it becomes apparent where you need to start. Put these goals in prominent places where you are going to be reminded of them (e.g. on your wall and fridge, and in your wallet) and then tell people about them—accountability is another factor that will contribute towards your success.

Ask a life coach or health and fitness trainer if you need additional help in setting goals or in following them through to completion.


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