I am a big believer in setting goals/resolutions. I not only set yearly goals, but also monthly; and even weekly! The past two and a half years I have been especially good at keeping up with the goals I set. Here are some things that have changed the way I look at goal setting, and have helped me follow through with my resolutions!
1. Creating stupid easy goals
This is something my husband told me about from a book he read called Mini Habits. If you are having a hard time sticking to your resolutions, than set one that is so easy it seems stupid. An example for me is, back in the beginning of the year I set a goal to do 30 burpees Monday-Friday. After a week or two-you guessed it-I stopped doing them. Thirty burpees a day is a lot, and before I knew it, I was either forgetting or coming up with excuses. Later this year, I set a ‘stupid easy’ goal to do one burpee a day. I even set a timer to go off every evening to remind me in case I forgot to do it during the day. Most days I remembered to do it when I was still in workout clothes, and more often than not, I would end up doing more than just one. However, even on days where I just did one, I felt good knowing I completed my goal.
In the book, the author’s goal was to do one pushup a day, even if he ended up doing one in bed right before going to sleep. Setting these goals will help boost your confidence and make you feel proud for achieving a goal over an extended period of time. After sticking to your stupid easy goal for a while, you can always increase it a tad. After two months, I increased my goal to 5 burpees a day. Notice I didn’t increase it to 30, or even 15. I still kept it pretty stupid easy’ for the most part.
2. Set action goals, not anti-action goals
It’s easier to follow through on goals that require you to do something, rather than goals that require you to not do something. For example, setting the goal of ‘I will not have dessert’ is harder to stick to than a goal like, ‘In the evening when I would usually have dessert, I am going to have a cup of tea’. Rather than focusing on eliminating something, focus on an action that replaces whatever you want to get rid of.
3. Make resolutions you are 100% in control of
I’ve talking before about setting controllable goals, it’s so important! Most people that set health related goals, make it all about weight. It often pans out like this: Set a goal to loose 10 pounds; You eat healthy and workout; You weigh yourself on the appointed date but you have not lost all 10 pounds; You feel discouraged, maybe even depressed and seek comfort in food. Sound familiar? Setting a weight goal is not controllable. Some people just have a harder time losing weight (like myself, I have hypothyroidism which makes it way too easy to gain, and hard to lose). You can do all you can, but you really have no control over then outcome.
Instead make the goal ‘I will workout at least three times a week’, or ‘I will eat vegetables with dinner every night this month’ or ‘I will not eat after 8pm”, ect. Those kinds of goals you have totally control over.
Same with setting time goals in races. Of course you are going to have some sort of time goal, but make another goal to go along with it. I did this when I ran the Rock’n’Roll San Diego Marathon. I had my goal pace, but after being inspired by Ryan Hall in Run the Mile You’re In (which is on my list of motivation running books) I also set the goal to run with gratitude. During the race, which went poorly and was slowest marathon, I focused on gratitude throughout it all. It really made a big different with how I felt about the outcome. With a race as along as 26 miles, you don’t have totally control over your finish time. Too many factors at play that can turn on you, but you can control your attitude.
4. Set concrete goals, not vague ones
If you make a resolution to ‘eat healthier’, or ‘exercise more’, that’s too vague and will be harder to follow through with. Make clear up goals, ‘I am going to have (inset healthy breakfast food you enjoy) every day for breakfast’, or ‘I am going to do one push up every day’ (combining clear cut goal with stupid easy).
I am using health goals as examples (this is a fitness blog) but this can apply to resolutions of all kinds. If you want to cut down on how much you complain, rather than setting the goal of, ‘I am going to complain less this month’, you could instead say, ‘Each day I am going to say at least one thing I am grateful for’.
5. Try to have it be things you enjoy
When it comes to food, you definitely need to find healthy options you actually enjoy eating, otherwise it won’t be sustainable. In food and exercise that are so many options! If you don’t like going to the gym, make a workout goal that doesn’t involve the gym (YouTube has infinite at home exercises)! If you want more cardio but hate running (I would recommend at least giving it a try, but I’m just biased towards running haha), then try cycling or the elliptical, or just walking!
My husband is a good example, he wanted to increase his cardio, but gets bored being on the elliptical for more than 10 minutes, so he started playing basketball! He loves it, and it gets his heart rate up!
With food it’s also important to choose healthy options you actually like eating. If you hate broccoli, than don’t eat it! There are so many healthy options out there, after trying out different varieties you will find something you like. Also after just quitting something unhealthy, it make take more time for you to adjust to these healthier foods. Junk food is the Las Vegas of food (as they say in It Starts with Food), it’s so much more exciting and thrilling and you can never get enough. Healthy food may seem boring, and it’s not giving your taste buds that intense (unnatural) thrill. Give yourself time to adjust.
For me, this was definitely true with sweets. Fruit isn’t has over the top sweet like cheesecake, but when I’ve gone without cheesecake long enough, the fruit starts to taste sweeter and sweeter.
6. Keep a goal journal of some sort
When I was trying to change my diet, I kept a food journal (used the one in the link and loved it) and wrote down literally everything ate. With exercise, I don’t usually keep track of the workouts I do but I do keep track every run. I have a training journal I use, while also having a Word doc calendar. For the past two years I have documented every single run. It’s such a satisfying feeling to write in my pace after having completed a run. (Side note, that’s the same training journal I included in my post on Christmas gift ideas for runners!)
I also keep track of my daily ‘stupid easy’ goal. In the training journal, I put a red X on every day I fulfill that goal. So it’s really just my gym workouts I don’t track.
This also helps if you are trying to adjust your mindset, keeping a gratitude journal and writing in it every day helps a ton with your perspective on life.
7. Create a Big Goal, and Break It Down to Daily Goals
If you have something big you want to accomplish and just set that as the goal, like ‘I am going to write a book this year’, chances are it won’t get done because the goal is too daunting. Instead, break it down to what has to be done on a daily basis on order to write a book. So you daily goal could be to write 500 words a day.
Just like with running a marathon. If you have the goal to run one, you have to break that goal up and create a training plan. Then your goal is to do whatever run you have scheduled for that day. Then before you know it, it’s race day and you’re ready to complete the big goal!
Some of these ideas I got from a book called Change Anything, as you can tell by the title, it’s about how to change whatever in your life you want changed. Whether it be creating new habits, or breaking old ones. I highly recommend it! It’s also available on Audible.
If you want more tips, check out this post about how to motivate yourself to workout!