How are those New Year’s Resolutions treating you? Are you irritable without your chocolate? Or sick of getting out of bed early to drag yourself to the gym?
If you’re like me I’m on fire about my lengthy list of goals and then a couple of weeks into the year I realize something – my list is too long and I’m miserable. I’ve finally discovered that it doesn’t work for me to make too many goals at once. I get overwhelmed and frustrated. I now make goals that will be with me for a lifetime, not just a quick fix to get me through the first weeks of January.
One goal a month:
I decide on one goal each month and write it on the top of my calendar. Then if I need to I break it into manageable goals for each day. For example, my goal might be: incorporate more interval training into my workouts. I break it down into: do intervals for my cardio workouts on Monday and Thursday. Then I write on my calendar each Monday and Thursday so I won’t forget. Or my goal may be to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. Again, I use my calendar, but this time I make a little slash mark for each eight ounce glass I drink. Another goal I’ve made is to play (and actually be fun) for at least an hour with my youngest son each day. Again, the goal is already spelled out for me I just make a check mark on the calendar when I accomplish it.
There’s something about writing that goal on the top of my calendar. I look at the calendar often so I can’t forget about or neglect my goal. If you’re not a calendar person, you could place your goal on the mirror or fridge or maybe put it as a reminder each day in your cell phone. Since my cell phone is often lost or dead, this wouldn’t work for me, but you need to find what is most effective for you.
A habit is formed in 21 days. That’s what makes a month-long goal so perfect. If you can make it a month, you will have turned your great goal into a fabulous habit. Then next month you can make a new goal and keep progressing. When I am feeling really ambitious I will set goals in a few different areas. A physical goal: more strength training or at least 5-6 veggies and fruits each day. A spiritual goal: study my scriptures each night or do one act of service each day. A mental goal: add 1000 words to my work in progress each weekday or update my blog three times each week. But this is only when I’m feeling really ambitious and the rest of my life is pretty settled (boys aren’t involved in too many activities, husband’s not ward mission leader, I’m not expecting a baby). Most of the time I am thrilled with one goal a month and that is plenty to work on.
Think about the type of goals you’re setting. As you’ve probably noticed from my examples, my goals are all things that I can accomplish. They are not something vague like: Hit the NYT bestseller list with my next novel or lose twenty pounds for my class reunion this summer. Those might seem like powerful and motivating goals, but they may be out of our control. All I can do is write the best novel I am capable of and work night and day to promote said novel. Even if I eat perfectly and exercise diligently, I may lose fifteen pounds but not twenty. Am I then a failure?
I get annoyed when women come to me wanting me to help them lose weight for an event. Weight is not a great indicator of health and quick weight loss rarely lasts. What I think most of us really want is: to look good, to feel healthy, to be strong and active and enjoy loved ones. Do people really walk up to you and ask how much you weigh? Can you imagine? People do notice how you look. But they really notice how you carry yourself with confidence, the smile on your face, and the spirit you have about you.
Set goals that will make be you your best you. Set goals that you can achieve. Here’s my latest: Smile all day long even when I feel like screaming. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Cami Checketts is an author and exercise scientist. She and her husband are expecting their fourth, he’s praying for another boy. Her latest book, The Sister Pact, is in stores now. www.camichecketts.com