New year resolutions are a common practice. The turn of the calendar from 31st December to the 1st of January usually witnesses a flurry of declarations for a better life, better body, more money, greater happiness and so on. Setting a goal does not necessarily translate to achievement. Most New Year resolutions fall by the wayside by the end of a couple of months, if not earlier.
Here are some tips to ensure that your goals suit your lifestyle and are realised.
We’ve all heard the acronym set SMART goals.
Goals need to be –
- Specific (simple, focused on something definite).
- Measurable (something that can be evaluated).
- Achievable (attainable).
- Realistic (reasonable).
- Time bound (time-based, time-sensitive).
While all the above holds true, I add that goals need to be Action based and not Result based. What does that mean?
A goal such as, ‘I intend to lose 10 pounds this year’ is result based. (Even though it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time sensitive). The loss of ten pounds is the result of your effort. The result is not always within your control. You may lose 10 pounds or, you may not reach your goal. On the other hand you may end up losing more.
A better approach is to focus on your effort or the action leading to that result. So for instance, your goal should not just be to ‘lose 10 pounds’ but perhaps one or more of the following:
- I will walk for thirty minutes every day at a moderately intense pace.
- I will stop eating sugar and desserts
- I will consume at least five cups of vegetables a day
- I will include two days a week of weight training
- I will lower my intake of refined carbs and processed foods
- I will remove alcohol from my diet.
- I will be more mindful of what I eat
And so on……
The above actions are pretty much under your direct control. If they are adhered to, the result, the weight loss will emerge. The success of the result of course depends largely on the effort you put in. Your focus therefore needs to be on that effort that is under your control.
Many times however despite your best effort you may not achieve exactly what you were going for. While this may be the case, it is quite pointless lamenting this ‘lack of success’ as I said the result is not always under your control. Instead recall the positive spin offs from your effort (which may not have been on your agenda to begin with). Following the above goals will make significant ‘lifestyle’ changes for long term success. These changes are far more important that the mere loss of weight. You learn to incorporate regular exercise, you understand and apply the basic principles of healthy eating as a ‘lifestyle’ rather than a short-term solution with an end goal like ‘weight loss’.
Whatever your goals, focus on the action and give it your very best. The results may or may not be exactly what you expected but no matter. The effort invested is all that really matters.