Making Your Goals Stick
How many times have you set yourself a goal, only to give up weeks later? You’re not alone; this is such a common occurrence, especially at this time of year when we start out with what we feel is huge motivation only to struggle to maintain our new health lifestyle after a few days or weeks.
Here we take a look at some simple methods to help you stay on track this time.
Know your ‘why’
When it comes to setting a goal, it’s so important to be clear in your mind as to the reason you want to achieve the end goal. As yourself questions such as how will you feel when you hit your target? If you’ve been at that point in the past, what did it look like or how did you feel? What will be different for you, and how will it improve your life? Answering these questions will add clarity to your goal setting process, and ensure that you’re not just chasing a generic, meaningless number or ‘look’.
Some goals can seem like giant, insurmountable obstacles. Losing a lot of weight, for example, can feel impossible and a long way away. But breaking down a big task into smaller chunks means you can slowly but surely chip away at the challenge to reach your goals.
Set yourself short (1-4 weeks), medium (3-6 months) and long-term (12+ months) goals which are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound). Every time you hit a small target you’ll feel successful, giving you an additional push towards achieving your ultimate end goal.
Why not! If you’re putting in hard work to achieve your goals, you deserve to reward yourself. Rewards provide an additional layer of positivity, encouraging you to succeed. One caveat though – the rewards should be in proportion to the achievement and shouldn’t be detrimental to achieving your goal, so for example you might reward yourself with a new pair of running shoes or some new gym wear, but avoid using food as a reward mechanism as this could have the opposite effect and send you off track.
With busy lives it’s easy to put your goal to the bottom of the priority list, but if you want to succeed then you have to ensure it stays front of mind. A great way to do this is to set regular alarms on your phone with motivational messages like ‘Congratulations…You’re one week into your health challenge. Keep at it!’ Alternatively, get your friends or family members to do it for you!
Get your friends and family on board
Talking of friends and family, making them aware of what you’re looking to achieve can help prevent any unintentionally negative peer pressure, to 'skip the workout' or 'treat yourself' with poor food choices, for example. If they know what you’re striving for, they are more likely to rally around and help you to reach your goal. Beware though of those who intentionally try to derail your efforts. Sadly, many people (even those who claim to be your friends) are often threatened when somebody close to them looks to make a lifestyle change. They are comfortable with the current ‘you’, and may be worried that if you change in any way (e.g. get fitter, slimmer, healthier) that you won’t be the same person. They may make negative comments and try to sabotage your hard work; this can be a difficult conflict to manage, and explaining to these people why you’re making the changes and what it means to you can be a great way to ensure that they are supportive. That said, if you find that some individuals continue to be negative, you may want to consider how much time you spend with or speaking to them.
Being consistent with your health routine, whether it’s your approach to exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress or emotional wellbeing, will help you to achieve your goals and maintain good health in the long-term. Developing small, daily habits so that they become the norm. That could be eating a portion of protein at every meal, eating at least 5 fruit and vegetables per day or drinking 2 litres of water per day for example which in the long term will all aid your progress.
Accept that ‘failure’ is part of success
It's important to be consistent but if you fall off the wagon, jump straight back on and don’t allow yourself to dwell on the bump in the road. Everybody has off days, but being consistent means if you do, you don’t let it affect the rest of your day, week, month or year. No health journey is a simple linear process. There will be moments where you find it really hard, so focus on your successes no matter how big or small they may be and remind yourself of your ‘why’.
Get professional support
Going it alone is very difficult, but employing a professional coach that ensures you stay accountable throughout your journey can make an enormous difference. A coach will work with you and your personal situation to ensure that the approach you take is the right one for you, and help you to adapt the plan along the way, introducing new ideas and methods that suit your lifestyle. A good coach will look to educate you too, so that you can adopt lifestyle changes that stick for the rest of your life!
Written by @chris_the_nutritionist