When it comes to weight loss, 99% of us have goals we want to achieve. Maybe it has been the same goal we have had for years, but it has managed to elude us this far. Or, maybe we hit our goal and we have made a new one we want to reach. Goal setting is not just paramount in being successful with weight loss, but in any area of our lives. If you know where you are headed, you need to make a plan on how to get there. You wouldn’t decide that you want to go to the mall, but not have a map on how to get there. That would be silly. You would spend tons of time driving around when it all could have been avoided by using a map and planning a direct route. Yet, a lot of us know we want to be fit but don’t create our map on how to get there.
Here are some tips to help you create a successful fitness map toward reaching your goal:
- Make your goal specific. It isn’t enough to say, “I want to work out more.” Set guidelines. A specific goal may be working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 30 minutes each day. The clearer your plan, the more likely you will be to stick to it because you know what is expected of you.
- You have to have the ability to measure your results. You have to know when you have achieved your goal. For instance, it is not enough to say, “I want to be happier.” After all, what is happiness? It is different for everyone. Some people may be happy when they can wear a size 10 pants. For others, it may be a size 4. Still, for others it may not be a clothing size, but a target weight. Set your guidelines for what you want so that you know when you have hit your target.
- Set a timeline in which to reach your goal. A goal does you no good if you do not care when you reach it. It is important to not only set the major, final goal you wish to reach but also to set mini-goals along the way. If you have a goal to be a certain weight in six months, for instance, you will want to break it down into smaller goals along the way. This allows you to set smaller, manageable goals and acquire successes along the journey. It is much easier to stomach the idea of losing ten pounds six times than it is to face losing sixty pounds.
- Set a goal that is realistic. If your goal is to lose forty pounds this month, you are setting yourself up for failure. Sure, I know that it is possible to lose this amount of weight if you are extremely overweight and make very stringent changes to your diet and lifestyle. However, for most of us, this is a completely unrealistic goal. It will never happen. And, if it does, it certainly is not healthy. So, set a realistic goal. Most experts agree that a safe rate of weight loss is 0.5 – 2.0 pounds per week. That may be a good place to start.
- Don’t be in a hurry. Most of us want to reach our goals yesterday. We are a society plagued by the notion of wanting what we want when we want it. Well, if you want permanent results you have to change your thinking. If you make small adjustments to your behaviors, chances are much better that you will keep the changes and not go back to old habits which got you in trouble in the first place. It does you absolutely no good to reach your goal only to regress and go back to where you started, or end up worse than where you are to begin with. Your chances of obtaining permanent results are dramatically increased if you make changes you are willing to live with on a permanent basis.
- Your goals have to be your own. I know this may sound stupid, but really think about your goal. Why do you want it? Is it because you want it or is it because someone else thinks you should want it? In order to have the drive and motivation necessary to stick to your goal in rough times, you have to really want it. You have to feel it deep in your soul. You have to be able to look past the hard work and effort and know that you will do what it takes to be successful. If it is not your goal, it is hard to have this level of determination.
- Not only is it important to know what you want, but you have to know why you want it. What motivates you to reach your goal? Do you want to get in shape because diabetes runs in your family and you want to save yourself from this dreaded outcome? Do you want to lose weight because the doctor says you can probably go off your blood pressure medication if you are thirty pounds lighter? Do you want to be thinner so it is easier to play with your children for longer periods? Do you want to decrease your body size so that you can wear a different style of clothing and not worry about what other people think when they see you? Figure out why you want to reach your goals. This is what will motivate you when times get tough. This will be what ignites your passion and makes you say to yourself, “I WILL PREVAIL!”
- Be willing to think outside the box. We all know that to maintain a healthy weight, we have to eat right and exercise. Well, if you think of exercise as the treadmill or stair stepper and you do not enjoy either of these options, you will not stick with your program. You have to be able to enjoy the process. After all, if the process does not stick with you, neither will the results. So, think outside the box to include all options. Would you enjoy spinning classes? How about Zumba? Are you an outdoor type of person who would look forward to rock climbing, mountain biking or cross country skiing? Look beyond the obvious, age-old ideas of being active and be willing to think outside of the box to find alternatives that would ignite your fire.
- Situate yourself around like-minded people. As the saying goes, if you want to be successful at something, surround yourself with people who already are. So, find people who motivate and inspire you. Hang out with people who are health conscious and take care of themselves. Remember when you were a kid and your parents were concerned with who you had as friends? Even if you were a well-mannered, well-intentioned child, if you hung out with kids that were “trouble makers”, you were sure to follow in their footsteps and get in some hot water yourself. Same rule still applies. If you surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live, it will rub off and make reaching your goals much easier.
- Finally, put your goals in writing. I know, this is the place where I lose a lot of you. However, if you want to be successful (and why set a goal if you do not want to reach it), it is important to write it down. This helps you cement in your commitment. It defines where you want to be. It makes your goal a reality and not just a passing thought.
If you do these ten steps for successful goal setting, you will be on your way to reaching new heights. As Robert J. McKaine says, “There is no achievement without goals.” So, let your achievements begin!