In my last post I have talked about the Top 3 common mistakes people make when making new year resolutions.
- Goals are not specific enough.
- Not writing your goals down.
- Waiting for the perfect time to start and quitting when failed.
Today we’re going to learn how to avoid these mistakes, but first a little pep talk.
Those people who say you don’t need to wait for a perfect time to start doing something great are undoubtedly right. Waiting for the perfect time and associating the start of the year with this is what sets you for fail, and it does so in one particular way: before the year starts you imagine that this new year could turn your life around. It’s a new, clean slate and you have to start it out right. You make a plan, you start, you do your best, but one day something comes up and you miss one step. After one missed step your progress seems to be ruined, you are disappointed with yourself and find it hard in the middle of self-penance to start back on track. You waste your time and then it finally hits you: the whole month went by and you didn’t do a thing towards your goal! So much for changing your life around… from this point on it is only natural to think that it is too late to try and change it now. The perfect moment is gone. Nothing’s changed and nothing will.
But this is not true! You can start changing your life around at any moment, even tomorrow. Or better yet – start today. Start with me, and start NOW!
You will need a pen and a paper (it needs to be written down, remember?) and this is it! We just conquered the problems No. 2 and 3. Time to get to that big fat 1!
1. Visualise your goal.
No cheating here. You have to visualise it. Close your eyes if necessary and take a peek. What is the New You like? Strong? Confident? Slim? Healthy? Does she/he have a new job? Or does she/he live in a new place? What is your dream?
2. Write it down.
No science here! But now it’s time for the major work. The better you do it, the better chances you have to achieve your big goal.
3. Break down into smaller goals.
Let’s suppose that your ultimate goal is to lose weight and become healthy. Now, how exactly do you do it? It’s one thing to decide what your goal is and another is to understand how to get there. That is why we need to break your major goal into smaller ones – they will give you clue what to do further.
So what do we need to lose weight in a healthy way? 1. Eat healthy. 2. Exercise. 3. Sleep well.
Remember, goals should be achievable. Do these 3 sound achievable? Sure! I can even start working towards them tomorrow! Only except when tomorrow comes I start wondering – how do I do it?
This is exactly where specifics come in handy.
4. Assess your goals and specify the details.
What is eating healthy? There is no set standard. The definition of healthy is different for everybody and every one of us would go only to a certain extent to eat healthy. To me, eating healthy means eating a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and grains, not too much fat and as little junk as possible. You may have other ideas in mind.
Anyway, to make healthy eating work it is easier to identify the specific problems with your diet and correct them, rather than starting a completely new regime where half of foods are foreign to you and you are not yet familiar with the tastes. There’s more chances you’ll stick to eating healthy if it is the addition to your existing diet and not the total makeover.
So, let’s now assess your eating habits and specify what has to change. Let’s suppose you eat a lot of sweets, eat ready-meals for lunch and don’t eat enough vegetables. Then these three should be your small goals: (a) eat less sweets, (b) stop eating ready-meals and (c) add more veggies to your diet.
5. Make plan and start acting.
This is the final step, but not any less important than the previous ones. It is now time to make a plan – a tool that will ultimately help you to achieve success, because a goal without a set plan of action is just as vague as an idea that pops in and out of your head without ever being written down and considered properly.
So, to eat less sweets you could try one (or more) of numerous strategies: limiting the amount you eat (1 chocolate bar a day or 1 square with tea), substituting healthy for unhealthy (dried or fresh fruit instead of biscuits), or make the tea time a ceremony, where you sit down with just a cup of favourite tea and savour every sip. I, personally, love tea ceremonies. They are very relaxing, like a meditation of its own kind.
To stop eating ready-meals for lunch you would need to pack your own lunch. It does involve a bit of planning and thinking ahead, but planning is what makes you succeed. Make salads for lunch, use left overs from last night’s dinner. You could eat the left overs on their own or use grains and protein from it in your salad by adding a variety of fresh veggies. If you eat up all the dinner and have nothing to use for tomorrow, prepare something else or think ahead and cook a bigger batch.
And ultimately, to eat more veg, add salads to your diet (lunch is perfect time!) or make it a habit to chop fresh vegetables and add them to your dinner, reducing the amount of carbohydrates and proteins on your plate (just a bit!). If you run out of fresh goodness, you can always throw frozen stuff in the microwave and it’ll be ready in no time.
Once you’re through with the 1st goal of eating healthy, you should do the same with the rest of your mini-goals.
Remember, it is much easier to follow a detailed plan than a vague idea. Be very specific. Your goals should also be measurable, so you know exactly what to do and can monitor your progress. Compare ‘eat not too much chocolate’ with ‘eating 1 piece of chocolate’. So do the same with the goal no.2 ‘Exercise’. Plan to exercise 15-2o minutes each day. Set alarms and set timers, they will serve as reminders. If your sleep is off-track, if you go to bed late or spend time on your laptop instead of sleeping, identify those problems and make a plan that addresses them. This is the way to make your goals work.
This post came out way too long and I still don’t feel like I’ve given enough.
The thing is, I see a lot of people struggle with their goals. Or worse, people who want something but are even scared to try because they have no idea how to do it. Not everyone has the capability of starting something out of the blue, just because they want, especially when it comes to major life-changing decisions, like starting to exercise, change their diet, changing careers or losing weight. I have a particular interest in supporting people in making those changes. I like helping people to become the best version of their own selves. And I believe that with the right mind-set each of you will do it.
That’s it for today. In my next post I will share my own goals for 2017, as I promised 🙂