Have you decided on a wellness, fitness, weight loss or a sporting goal this New Year?
With the start of a new year comes a popular time for self-reflection and plans for what people would like to achieve in the year to come.
It is important when setting goals or new year’s resolutions to take a specific and considered approach to ensure success and avoid disappointment.
A helpful way to ensure we set an achievable goal is by using the SMART goal method. An acronym to help set a goal that is:
Specific – has a clear intention,
Measurable – have a value or way to measure progress towards our goal,
Achievable – something possible to achieve, if your overarching goal will take longer to achieve, this can be broken up into smaller achievable short term goals;
Relevant – reflect why this goal is important to you, is it relevant to larger goals, or your lifestyle?
Timed – set a deadline or timeline to help with adherence rather than leave it open to ‘someday’
An example of how the SMART method can make your goal setting more meaningful can be “I want to exercise more” vs “I want to meet the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes a week” – where your action to achieve this goal may be attending three 50 minute exercise classes over a week.
Noticing that applying the SMART prompts provides you with clear and achievable direction and simple to identify if you have achieved that goal.
Approach vs Avoidance Goals
Another way to ensure success with our goals is to include positive language to help them seem more approachable and beneficial.
Approach goals are worded to achieve or maintain a positive outcome, such as “eat more fruit and vegetables to feel great and full of energy”, the language indicating that there is something to gain.
An avoidance goal uses negative language focused on avoiding or removing a behaviour or outcome, for example “stop eating bad foods”, here the language indicates there is something lost.
For some people, focusing on positive outcomes and what can be gained from working towards that goal can be more motivating and easier to stick to.
How to get started
Spend some time thinking about what you’d like to work towards and why it is important to you. Starting somewhere small is a great way to get started and those simple, easy to achieve goals are helpful in building confidence and motivation.
Understanding your barriers and what has stopped you in the past is also important so that this time you can make a plan to overcome those barriers.
For some extra assistance, seeing a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist who can help you work towards movement related goals is an option to have someone help you set and work towards effective goals.