Hopefully, you have set some solid goals for the New Year by now and are ready to put your goal setting tactics in motion. If you haven’t done that yet, you still have time to create a plan for the new year. Trying to determine goals during the holidays can be a challenge. So, don’t feel like you’ve missed the bus if you haven’t set any yet.
Many people choose weight loss as a goal, so I will use that idea as an example. But, these goal setting tactics can and should apply to anything you want to achieve. The process (you know how I love process and planning!) follows.
Create SMART Goals
The first step is to write down your goals and make sure they are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. A goal is not the typical New Year’s Resolution format of “I want to lose weight.” That’s just a pipe dream. To get it to goal status, you have to put it into a format that includes the aforementioned attributes. So, “I will lose 30 lbs. by December 31, 2017, through better nutrition and exercise, so that my joints don’t ache all the time” is a goal. Let’s break it down:
- Specific = you told us who was doing what, why and how
- Measurable = you have designated a number of pounds
- Attainable = assuming this isn’t a huge % of your body weight, this is most likely an attainable goal
- Relevant = your joints ache, so this is very relevant to you
- Timely = you set an end date
Goal Setting Tactics
You can’t just hop on the scale on December 31, 2017, and expect that you have lost weight without planning how you will do it. You need to step through some goal setting tactics to get there. Goals without plans are likely to remain wishes or dreams. So, you need to put the steps down with target dates to work toward achieving a goal. It’s like project management for your dreams. For it to become an actual plan, you have to break it down into smaller portions with deadlines, just like you would for project management:
- Set a reminder to weigh on the first day you start, so you have something to measure against
- Create a to-do on your to-do list to make an appointment to join a gym
- Schedule an appointment with yourself on your calendar to research and learn about better nutrition
- Note: if additional steps come from your research, you will need to schedule them as well
- Designate time in your day to prepare your meals and to eat regularly
- Block time on your calendar to exercise
- Put a repeating to-do on your to-do list to plan your meals for the week
- Don’t forget a recurring calendar event to go grocery shopping
- If you are joining a support group to help, be sure to schedule those meetings on your calendar as well.
Now that you have a plan, you have to check in regularly to make sure you are on target, and something hasn’t completely thrown your goal off kilter. For example, perhaps the gym membership was too expensive and you had to seek alternative exercise methods. Or, worse, you sprained your ankle and need to swim instead of run. Those things don’t mean that you can’t reach your goal, just that you have to re-plan how to achieve it. So, goals are an ongoing process. You don’t just set them and then ignore them until December.
I recommend setting recurring to-dos on your calendar to check in with yourself on your goals. So, depending on your goal, it might be a monthly or quarterly check-in. For something like weight loss, you might want to weigh daily or weekly to measure your results.
I encourage you to use these goal setting tactics. You need to know where you’re heading and how you are going to get there. Don’t be a dreamer. Be an achiever!
I’d love to hear your goals. Please feel free to leave a comment with your goal. And if you need help with the specifics, feel free to ask!
Also published on Medium.