Many of us use the month of January to springboard into a year of good habits and resolutions. If you are the super-organised and motivated type, you may have already put your goals for the year into words and be well underway with carrying them out. However, if like me, goals and resolutions have taken a bit of a back burner, this post might be for you. Or, if you have goals materialized but you don’t know how to translate them into action, you might find these tips useful.
Based on Psychological theory, the building blocks for forming good habits are; making them SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC & give yourself a TIME-FRAME.
Sounds boring, but let me explain. Being specific with what you want to achieve is important for success.
For example, ‘I want to run more’ is vague. Rather, ‘I want to be able to run 5km without stopping,’ makes the goal specific and gives enough detail to make it achievable. Making a goal specific will help you visualize the thing you want to achieve.
This also ticks the MEASURABLE box, as 5km is a measure of distance you want to cover. Other versions could be, I want to be able to do three unassisted pull ups in the gym.
The achievable and realistic boxes are self-explanatory and, in my opinion, you deserve more credit. You can achieve things that at first might seem unrealistic. You can achieve anything and work towards any goal simply by starting and building your progress up. Do you want to be able to meditate for twenty minutes every day? Start with 2-5 minutes. Want to be able to run 5km? Maybe start by walking or run a shorter distance first. Start somewhere, achieve what you set out to do and then raise the ceiling.
Giving yourself a time-frame can also be motivating and enables you to track your goals. To do this, grab a diary and timetable when you will complete an activity that will move you further towards your end goal. For example, schedule a gym class, timetable a run, set out when you will meditate. Writing it down will materialize it and bring it into existence.
So that is the evidence-based, psychological tips for setting goals. Below you will find my tried and tested tips.
- Make physical to-do lists that you can see. Whether that be in a pretty diary that you enjoy writing in, a notebook or post-it notes dotted on your desk.
- If your goal is exercise related, use apps to track your progress. I love Nike Run App, Nike Training Club and I also love finding workouts on Pinterest or Instagram. If you are new to the gym, it can be intimidating and difficult to know what to do at first. So starting with guides and pre-made workouts can be really helpful. I also find writing down my workout before I go to the gym super motivating. It holds me accountable and I get more done than I think I will by ticking off the different exercises.
- DO NOT be hard on yourself. Nobody starts out on a new journey, whether that be fitness, health or self-care, and is perfect. There will be days or even weeks where you fall off the bandwagon. Please don’t feel disheartened. Use the break as recovery and start again that instant and don’t put it off until Monday or the following week.
- Be healthy and positive. Goals that are negative, such as ‘I want to lose weight’, ‘Drink less alcohol’, ‘Eat less’ have the worst success rates and for a reason. Our brains are programmed to take on board positive information. Instead of lose weight, go back to the specific goal-setting tip and instead target ‘Move more throughout the week by cycling to work’. Instead of drink less say, ‘Be more mindful of when I am drinking’, ‘Drink more water on a daily basis – minimum of 8 glasses’. Hopefully you get the idea!
So, I hope that whatever goals you are setting yourself or whatever targets you have for 2020 are fulfilling and nurturing. The most important thing is not to beat yourself up if a goal is not achieved straight away, this is not a failure. I would love to know what you are aiming for this year and any of your own tips that you may have!