We all have great intentions to fulfill our New Year’s Resolutions and set ourselves goals to improve ourselves over the course of the year. Now that January is over, have you already failed? Or dropped the ball on fulfilling your resolution? Realizing that it may not be that easy to impart change in your life? As a Chiropractor, I work with people to set health related goals daily. Knowing how to set sensible, realistic, and achievable goals is a skill that everyone should learn at an early age. This article will discuss how to create more achievable health-related goals for the year and can be applied to almost any discipline if you look at the basic principles.
Our first step we need to look at is finding your why, the reason you want to set this goal. What do you ultimately want to achieve by accomplishing this goal? For most people, they want to become healthier, lose weight, or get stronger. What people often don’t understand about this step is this is where we get all our motivation to fulfill this goal. It’s not enough to say, I want to lose weight because I want to lose weight; Or I want to lose weight because I know it’s what it takes to be healthy. Getting to the root of the goal is what’s most important here. For example, clients who come to see me often suffer from back pain which has prevented them from enjoying life, it may be a former athlete who can no longer play his/her favourite sport, a grandmother who can no longer lift her 2-year-old grandchild, or a tradie who just can’t carry out his/her workload and provide for the family. Whatever the reason may be, we must set a goal to accomplish something important, something that will motivate you to wake up every morning and put it into action. You want to live longer and see your grandchildren get married? Or run that marathon with your child? Play footy like you use to when you were younger? This is likely the most important step to setting a goal you will achieve and its often overlooked.
Next, we have to select an appropriate goal. But how do we do it? We need to set a goal that is achievable but still pushes ourselves, measurable but not solely based on a number, and time sensitive. With New Year’s resolutions, the time table is easy. You’ve got the year to accomplish the goal, but saying I want to lose 25kgs this year and getting to December and realizing you’ve got another 10kgs to go doesn’t work. Long term goals need to be broken down into sensible sub-goals, if you want to lose 25kgs in the year you need to lose 2kgs per month. Not only does it keep us on a consistent pattern of accomplishing our goal but it also makes the task look more realistic and achievable, meaning we won’t get deflated or overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Setting unrealistic goals means we are setting ourselves up for failure and in my experience people who think they are likely to fail will often give up.
This is where the fine line between being achievable and pushing ourselves comes into play, and why step 1 is so important. If we don’t have a great deal of motivation we will not be able to push ourselves and therefore should make more conservative goals. Succeeding at one goal can often be a good motivational tool when setting a new goal, and we can push ourselves that bit further next time, because we already have the confidence that we can achieve our goals. Be honest and realistic about your goals. If you have time to go to the gym once per week, you may not want to set your weight loss goal at 1kg per week, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. We should make sure we allow for set-backs and be prepared to miss a target occasionally. If you only lost 1kg this month instead of 2kgs, we just have to stay calm and seek a little extra motivation for next month. We can do a couple extra training sessions and make up for it. Don’t get discouraged by failure, get motivated! We also need to celebrate our victories, if we don’t feel like we are achieving anything we will lose sight of our motivation. This can be as simple as playing your favourite song each time you complete a workout, or buying that special pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on since you started your challenge. Word of advice here is that weight loss and health related goals should not have food rewards, we don’t want to celebrate losing 2kgs this month by gorging ourselves on take-away.
Goal-setting is a skill and needs practice, we should accept the fact that we may fail, but always strive for success. Find your motivation, set a realistic, achievable, measurable, and time sensitive goal. Never give up, even if you hit a wall! Celebrate our successes. And most importantly, set yourself up for success!