Goal-setting is both an art and a science.
It’s more than merely picking something you do not have right now and going for it. A series of prudent goals should focus on building wellness habits through gradual increments rather than larger changes that can lead to failure, frustration, injury or dropout.
In order to establish a general goal, ask yourself, What’s holding me back? What is the one thing—your limiting factor—that keeps you from achieving that goal? Is it nutrition, exercise or something else? Knowing your limiting factor will ensure a maximum amount of progress with minimal changes. Use your limiting factor to create both short- and long-term goals. Once you have been consistent for 14 to 21 days, then you can pick another thing to try. The goal is to practice simple, strategic actions that build over time.
Remember Jenga? The goal of the game is to remove one block at a time without making the entire tower fall. Well, consider this exercise a reverse-Jenga. You want to pick the one practice that will set off a positive chain reaction, causing your “tower” to fall. Your tower could be fat loss, muscle strength or any of a number of other things. In other words, you want to pick the one nutrition or exercise practice that will have the biggest effect on your body and health right now.
Now, take those general goal statements and clarify them. Use your limiting factor to help shape your specific goals. For example, if you want to get in better shape, lose weight, eat healthier and get toned, what does that really mean? What is holding you back from achieving those things? This next step takes generalities and turns them into specific, detailed S.M.A.R.T. goals.
The following are components of an effective goal. It is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym can help you remember these components.
- Specific: The goal should identify a specific action or event that will take place.
- Measurable: The goal and its benefits should be quantifiable.
- Achievable: The goal should be attainable given available resources.
- Realistic: The goal should require you to stretch some, but still make success likely.
- Time-Based: The goal should state the time period in which it will be accomplished
Writing a few sentences down can mean the difference between success and failure. Research shows that people who take a few minutes to put their goals on paper are five to 10 times more likely to achieve them. So pull out a pen and paper and get started!
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