MY QUICK & DIRTY GOAL-SETTING GUIDE
This is where being type-A personality kind of helps. I’m not really the kind of person to just “shoot in the dark” when it comes to anything. Half-assing doesn’t come to me naturally, which is actually a tremendous pain in the ass, because it means I slip into taking life WAY too seriously. But in the health and wellness space? It’s a real asset.
I like to get specific.
I like to crunch numbers.
I like to log.
I like to really evaluate my progress.
I like to plan and map and analyze.
And while yes, this stuff does come to me naturally, I also think it’s a critical component of the wellness journey. You HAVE to set goals. You just have to. Saying that you want to “lose weight” means nothing. You need a plan to back it up and to help you stay the course. We are emotional people. We feel things on a minute to minute basis and, for the most part, we’re REALLY mean to ourselves.
THE INNER VOICE DERAILS OUR GOALS
Yes, there are a handful of people who just feel truly amazing about themselves all the time (and congratulations to them, how amazing it must be to have all that negative narrative in check!) But for most of us, the real challenge is figuring out how NOT to be an asshole to ourselves. It’s figuring out how to drown out that negative voice in your head that’s constantly telling you that you’re not doing well enough, that you’re not trying hard enough, that you’re falling off the wagon, that you’re failing, and that you should just give up because “What’s the point?”
Our inner mean girl has claws that dig in and fight to keep a grip on our self-esteem, motivation and confidence. And while there is really no one way to shake the inner narrative loose, there are some tried and true techniques that I’ve found personally powerful over the years. I call it my Quick and Dirty Goal-Setting Guide – here it is in 4 simple steps….
SONIA’S QUICK AND DIRTY GOAL-SETTING GUIDE
Get Clear on What You REALLY Want
What do you want? Like really, WHAT do you ACTUALLY WANT? This sounds like an easy question, but when we really sit with it most of the time we don’t actually know the answer. We’re too caught up in what other people want for us or what we think we’re supposed to want – and the inner narrative thrives on this. So ask yourself, what do you really, really want? Get raw and honest with yourself, shake off other people’s “shoulds”, and figure out what’s actually important to you.
Vary Your Types of Goals
When it comes to “body results”, I always pick goals that relate to size, not weight, because we all know that the scale is a lying cheating bastard. One of my secrets to setting achievable goals is to break the whole picture down into short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals and then vary those goals further between “results focused goals” and “performance focus goals”.
For example, in the short term: I want to be able to hold a plank for 1 minute. In the long term: I want to be able to do 25 push ups without taking a break. Or – I want to run a half-marathon. If you have no interest in working out, a performance goal can also be as simple as “I want to eat 3 salads a week to make sure I’m getting more vegetables in my diet.” You get the point.
These performance-based goals really help to shift the focus from size to strength. From skinny to healthy. From the aesthetics to sheer WELLNESS.
It’s a great way to keep yourself balanced.
It’s a great way to give yourself something productive to feel good about.
It’s a great way to keep yourself motivated.
It’s a great way to keep the inner voice from being super mean to you.
Because trust me – as you start to see progress in the “healthy” department, you start to care less and less about the size department. Once you can do 25 push ups… you’re like, holy shit I’m a total badass – if I can do 25, what’s stopping me from doing 30? 50?
And then you start to shift your mindset. You start to want to eat for performance. Sleep for performance. Hydrate for performance. And once the mindset shifts, maintaining your goals becomes so much easier.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
“What the heck is a SMART goal?” (You might be asking…) S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym representing…
S – pecific
M – easurable
A – ttainable
R – elevant
T – ime Sensitive
Writing your goals out this way ensures that there’s no question about if, when, and how you’re going to achieve your goals. The system is designed in such a way to ensure that you’re working towards goals that really matter to you on your journey.
When you make your goal SPECIFIC, you remove ambiguity and force yourself to clearly envision what “achieving” this will look like. By using language that’s unambiguous you gain clarity. You gain focus. You gain a solid launching point.
Creating a MEASURABLE goal enables you to track progress – meaning you can assess what’s working and what isn’t. You need to be able to do this otherwise you’ll be left constantly answering nagging questions like, “Am I doing well?”, “Is all this effort getting me anywhere?”, “should I just give up?”. And, if you leave it to your emotions to dictate the answers to these questions, more often than not, you’ll respond with “no, you’re not doing well, this is all pointless”. Why? Because, well, most of us are quite mean to ourselves. Rarely do we stop to pat ourselves on the back for how well we’re tackling our goals. We focus on the negatives. We make the process feel painful. However, when you establish concrete goals that can be tracked and measured, you move away from your emotions and anchor yourself on tangible data.
Speaking of tangible data, writing a goal that’s actually (like, actually) ATTAINABLE is very important. One of the most common reasons we fall off the wagon is that we set goals that are far too big for our current reality. I’m not saying “don’t dream big”, but when it comes to reaching those big dreams you need to have smaller, realistic goals in place first.
Finally, we get to RELEVANT and TIME-SENSITIVE goals which, frankly, seem pretty self-explanatory to me. Of course you want to establish goals that are relevant to your big-picture vision, otherwise why bother going through the process? And when it comes to timing, it’s imperative to think about how to break your goals down. For example, I always keep my short term goals no longer than 3 months because that amount of time feels chunky enough for me to work with, without being so long that I lose focus and momentum, or so short that I start panicking about time running out!
Here’s what happens when you set tangible SMART goals for yourself. You have something concrete to benchmark yourself against. You’re not arbitrarily guessing about your progress – you’re actually tracking against something real. Having both short term goals and long term goals really sets the tone for your journey, allows you to stay focused on something “real”, and helps you override the negative chatter that will inevitably creep into your head. It’s a simple mechanism to allow you to course-correct at every turn.
Accountability and Follow-Through
A final note when it comes to setting, hitting and maintaining your goals – write that shit down. In big bold letters somewhere. And keep it handy. Put your goals on a Post-it on your fridge. Keep them in your phone. Make them your screen saver. Tape them to the dashboard of your car. Basically, put them somewhere where you’re forced to look at them everyday to help keep yourself accountable.
Some other accountability tips that work well:
- If you like to journal, write (or type) your goals every morning to reaffirm them in your psyche. Or alternatively, you can re-read them every morning or every night before you go to bed.
- Share your goals with an accountability partner; when you describe your goals to another person, not only do you now feel accountable to them (they might ask you how progress is going at any point – eeek!), but sharing also provides additional clarity and visualization for you around your goals.
- Schedule (in your calendar) “check-ins” for your goals and get clear around benchmarks you’d like to be hitting by that time.
- Hire a coach or join a group coaching program, like SJ Semester, to surround yourself with a supportive community to help keep you accountable and on track with your goals.
#GOALS ISN’T EASY
Don’t be fooled by the glossy photos we see all over Instagram and in the media about people hitting their wellness goals – it is a lot harder than it looks! And you know what? That’s totally okay. Goals are challenging. Setting them is easy, hitting and keeping them is the hard part. But with some planning, preparation and accountability practices in place, you can absolutely get where you want to be.