“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” – Diana Scharf Hunt
Some of us set goals at the end of each year and call them New Year’s Resolutions. We have all made them and we have all broken them primarily because we do not also make an action plan that lays out what steps are necessary to actually reach our goal. When it comes to setting goals that have the potential to actually improve your physical, emotional and/or mental health, you don’t have to wait for New Year’s, anytime is a good time. But without an action plan, you are less likely to be successful.
Setting a three-month goal is a good first step. During the three-month timeframe you can learn and hopefully maintain some new behaviors that will help you reach your goal. Your action plan must have specific and measureable items along with a deadline for performing these actions/behaviors. Make sure your action plan is directly linked to your goal.
If your goal is to lose weight so that you will have more energy, you must decide what actions you will do on a daily or weekly basis that will enable you to achieve the goal of weight loss so that your level of energy improves. An example of your first weekly action plan might be something like this with adjustments for your personal schedule:
• Walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes at 5:30 pm (M-W-F)
• Do a strength-training routine on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m.
• Use 8-pound dumbbells
• Do 12 reps with a 15 second rest between each exercise
• Eat an apple with my lunch 3 days (Monday-Wednesday-Friday)
• Lose one pound each week by meeting my exercise and nutrition goals
Having small behavior changes in your action plan will allow you to perform more difficult activities each week for the first three month period of your goals and will eventually lead to the successful completion of your overall goals. Remember to have specific and measurable actions each week that become progressively more challenging.
So, why do you want to make changes? Knowing the reason can be a strong motivator. For some, the motivator might be: “wanting to play with my children or grandchildren.” In this case, posting a photo of the children on the refrigerator may help. Keep an eating log, it may motivate you to make better food choices. Having a close relative with diabetes or heart disease may be a fear motivator. Just keeping an image of good health in your mind can be a powerful motivator.
So the New Year is here already. Have you set your goals? If not, do it today!
Judy Schmoeger is a Lee’s Summit resident and owner of Anytime Fitness.