Creating a plan when setting goals is critical in order to ensure success. A plan provides structure and outlines the steps necessary to get there. It allows you to consider obstacles and come up with solutions before they arise. Furthermore, having a plan helps keep you organized and on track, and provides motivation along each step of the way. You also keep yourself accountable and can track and measure your progress as you go.
By outlining all of these components before beginning, it will be much easier to stay focused, stay motivated, and ultimately reach your goal faster.
Determine What You Want to Improve
Health-conscious goals are a great way to improve your well-being. It can be starting an exercise program, drinking more water, or sleeping or reading more. Other ideas could be breaking a bad habit, professional development, or building healthier relationships with friends, family, or colleagues.
Many goals that involve a time investment can be easily and cheaply tracked with just a phone timer and notepad. Although, it’s also worth it to search for specialized smartphone apps that could streamline the tracking process even further. You can also track your goal conditions (such as losing weight) over time to see how well you are progressing.
Short-Term versus Long-Term Goals
While setting goals, determining a timeframe will give you an opportunity to observe results and re-calibrate your plan as needed. For example, breaking a bad habit can be done in as few as 21 days, so this would be a great example of a short-term goal. On the other hand, losing a significant amount of weight can take months to a year, so this would be an example of a long-term goal.
It’s important to research how long it might take for your efforts to bear fruit. This way, you do not get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results.
Setting SMART Goals
It’s crucial to make your goals SMART – that is, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. It’s great to want to lose weight, for example, but if you do not set qualifiers, working towards this goal may feel scattershot and aimless.
Let’s walk through how to make losing weight a SMART goal.
- Specific – This determines the actual “win condition” for your goal and the specific steps you will take to get there. For example, when aiming to lose weight, you might begin a new walking or running regimen.
- Measurable – This is an objective way that you will hold yourself accountable. For example, this can include deciding exactly how many pounds you want to lose.
- Attainable – You’ll want to be sure that this is a fair goal to set for yourself. For example, losing 15 pounds in a month may not be healthy (or even possible) but over six months to a year is a much more achievable task.
- Realistic – Ensure that you have enough time budgeted in the day to dedicate towards this goal. If you have a full-time job and family obligations, then running for three hours a day after work may not be possible. However, getting 30 minutes in during your lunch break very well might be.
- Time frame – Resolve to reach your goal condition in a fixed amount of time, and periodically re-evaluate your weight (every two weeks, every month) to see if you need to adjust your efforts towards your target weight.
Setting goals is a great way to push yourself toward a desired state. However, it’s important to have the right frame of mind when doing so. Ensuring your goals are SMART will give you the motivation and encouragement you need.
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