If you feel your life has been a series of good intentions gone astray, it is not because you lack the willpower or the ability to achieve your goals. The goals themselves might be the problem.
Setting goals and reaching them is a skill that anyone can learn. The first step is an attitude adjustment. Your goal must be something you genuinely want to accomplish, not just something you think you should do. Make your goal personal and motivating.
Think about underlying feelings and attitudes that might have sabotaged your efforts in the past. Are you committed to your goal? Do you believe you can achieve it? Are you ready to embrace change in your life?
When you have identified a long-term goal, break it down into smaller, more specific goals that will take you step-by-step to success.
Get a pencil and paper and turn each of these specific goals into a SMART goal:
Specific – Exactly what do you want to accomplish? Your goal might be to lose 10 pounds in 3 months, exercise 30 minutes a day, or be more patient with your toddler. Add as much detail as you can.
Measurable – How will you measure your progress? By stepping on a scale, wearing a fitness bracelet, taking your blood pressure, or marking off tantrum-free days on a calendar?
Accountable – You must have a method of tracking your progress, so that you know when you go off track. Write down how many minutes you exercise every day. Use a food journal or a food tracking app to track daily food habits. Record notes about your child in a diary. Develop a strategy to get back on track when you have a setback.
Realistic – Your goal, and your plans for measuring and tracking it, must be something that you can accomplish with the personal and physical resources available to you.
Timeframe – How long will it take to accomplish your goal? When will you begin? Break your overall timeframe down into shorter segments. For example, aim to lose 4 pounds the first month, then 3 pounds the next 2 months. Start with a 10-minute walk the first week, 20 the next, and then 30 after 4 weeks.
Now, take stock of your knowledge and circumstances. What do you need to achieve your goal? You might need new running shoes, or fruits and vegetables to stock your refrigerator. You probably need to schedule time for new activities, and for tracking or journaling your progress.
Most importantly, you need education to support your lifestyle change. To learn about weight loss, visit a nutritionist or join a weight loss program. If you already know a lot about nutrition, new books and articles will inspire you and give you more ideas. Join an exercise class, or team up with a friend who exercises regularly. Buy a book on parenting. The more you learn, the more motivated you will become, and the more successful at achieving your goals.
At first, working towards your goal will require extra thought and energy. After your new routine is established, it will become second nature.
From time to time, adjust your SMART goal to make it more realistic. For example, you might alter the timeframe, change the type of exercise you are doing, or try a different way of communicating with your child.
Do not be discouraged if you experience a setback, or fail to achieve a short-term goal. Just pick up where you left off, and move forward. When you start seeing positive results, you will be motivated to make more effort.
Weight-loss goals: Set yourself up for success. Mayo Clinic. (www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20048224)
My Fitness Pal – Calorie Counter app sponsored by Under Armor (https://www.myfitnesspal.com/)
Supertracker – Food tracker from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (https://supertracker.usda.gov/foodtracker.aspx)