The winter months can cause some people to feel blue. It has to do with the lack of sunshine and how it sustains us. It is also a time of telling one’s self that this year is going to be different. This year, unlike past years we are really going to go for it and lose weight, stop drinking or smoking. We also make resolutions for our careers such as getting motivated to get a higher paying job. The issue is that resolutions are wishful thinking:
“I’ll really lose weight. Once Christmas and New Year are over. Until then I can eat what I want.” We start wishing thinking about a week or two before January 1st, filling our minds with lots of promises. Sometimes we tell others just so we can hear that we have a wonderful idea. A lack of strategy is usually the downfall. We must set clear goals for changing direction and achieving goals.
Before January 1st arrives, take the time to set strategic goals. Be sure to make them specific to what you want to achieve. For example, “Starting January 1st, I am going to stop eating pizza.” Change it to “Starting at 8:00 on January 1st, I will start eating healthy 24/7, following a daily meal plan that I will write up on December 27th.”
You must write down your goals and the reasons why this goal is important to you. If you do not have a compelling reason to reach the goal, then it is not a goal but simply a wish. Set as many goals as you feel you are able to accomplish. If you believe at the start that you can set and accomplish 3 goals across different areas, going beyond that will overwhelm you and it is possible you will see yourself as a major failure, giving up on trying to set and accomplish goals in the future.
All your goals should be written with positive intention. Avoid words like “I won’t do this or I won’t do that.” Instead, write it with a conviction. “I will do this and it will give me pleasure to achieve it.”
Get an accountability buddy. Once you have your goals written down, they are not wishes anymore. This means they will take work and it is far too easy to lose motivation. Your buddy must be someone who will not look at your goals in a negative way and make suggestions that you should change something because, “well, that won’t work. I know you. You won’t do that.” Even the best of accountability buddies may suggest a big change but you must hold fast because you own these goals. Set up times to have a chat and discuss your progress.
Be flexible and know that since these goals are worth working for, there will be roadblocks. A resolution is so much different. When a roadblock comes up on a resolution, people will just shrug it off and tell everyone, “well at least I tried but this happened and well it just isn’t doable because of that.”
Look at your goals when obstacles occur or you are having difficulty even with 100% effort. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on a goal, you just need to alter parts of it, to make it workable. For example, you had a goal of losing weight this year and you are well on your way. Out of the blue, you get a cold or flu. This is an unavoidable roadblock that should not affect your motivation to get right back on track the moment the illness clears.
This coming year, stop with resolutions and make SMART goals instead. The system of SMART goals will making your achievements a reality.
How to Make you goals SMART
SPECIFIC – Your goal needs to be spelled out very precisely and you also need to have a reason WHY behind your goal…some benefit or emotional attachment that will keep you focused. For example, a goal might be I am going to lose one kilo/pound a week through cutting out cakes and biscuits.
Using this language leaves no doubt as to what the goal is, why you want to achieve the goal, and how you will get there is very important. If you are not able to be detailed in your description of the goal, it will be hard to meet it. Take the time to do this part right.
MEASURABLE – This is where a Journal or fitness tracker like My Fitness Pal comes into play. It’s a report card and a method to measure what you want to accomplish and what you actually accomplished. If your goal cannot be quantified, then it’s not a full goal and you won’t know how when you have succeeded. An example of a measurable goal would be to lose one kilo/pound a week. I will weigh myself every Friday at 9am
ACTIONABLE / ACHIEVABLE – There are different things that “A” can stand for, but it’s usually actionable or achievable. In order to achieve anything, you must take action. So, make your goal actionable, where you do something each day that will eventually result in an accomplished goal.
Goals should also be achievable or you will quickly get frustrated. Be accurate about the time it takes to reach a goal, and what actions it takes to get there. Also, know who will be responsible for doing it.
REALISTIC / RELEVANT – “R” can stand for realistic or relevant, and both are important. If you want your goal to succeed, it should most certainly be realistic or you will fail. If you wanted to lose six kilos/ half a stone a week you will be setting yourself up for failure or force yourself into some craxy cabbage diet- not sustainable
Your goal should also be relevant to your life’s vision and match your values. There’s no point in making or achieving goals that have no relevance to your long-term life goals. You could instead use that time to reach goals that get you one step closer to actually reaching your life goals. So always ask yourself, if the goal is relevant to your life goals.
TIME BOUND / TIMELY / TRACKABLE – Various authors refer to the “T” in the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as time-bound, timely or trackable. All of these t’s are important parts of the goal creating and setting process. If you don’t set a time limit and you can’t track what is happening, your goal will be hard to quantified or show as achieved. Journaling helps you with this. In our example the timing is one kilo/pound a week and we are tracking it by weighing ourselves weekly.
Whichever words you use to help you craft your goals, the important thing is to have a process to help you make smart goals. Smart goals are goals that you follow through on achieving and know when you’ve met them.
Want some help in dealing with this? at Citizen Counselling and Coaching a number of our counsellors and coaches can provide support around this issue in person and via telephone and zoom secure video chat. This could include identifying the obstacles to overcoming the issue, creating practical plans and through sharing techniques and models that have worked for others.
Our ‘Turn Hopeless Resolutions into Personal Evolution’ online programme and Coaching were designed for time poor busy people looking to make a positive change in their lives.