By Toni Carey (@toni_carey)
Christmas is over and like checking it off my “to-do” list, I’ve moved on to thinking about the New Year and all the goodness that I hope 2012 will bring. Needless to say, I’ve started developing my list of New Year’s resolutions that often go ignored somewhere after Jan. 15. But, I’m not the only one. People around the world will start their new year by listing all their “resolutions” for the next 12 months only to stick with them a few weeks before getting frustrated or just plain forgetting about them.
This year, I’m taking a new approach by setting goals rather than listing resolutions. The difference? Resolutions tend to be vague and lack a defined goal or target date. (I want to eat healthier vs. I will eat at least one vegetable during each meal for the next six weeks). Goals have both. Here’s a few ways to be successful in 2012.
Set A Concrete Goal That Can Be Measured
Again, it’s not enough to promise yourself that you’re going to eat healthier. Get specific by defining exactly what healthy means and how you’re going to get there. So, if your goal is to eat healthier, some goals may include:
Drink 8 – 8oz. glasses of water each day
Eat breakfast each morning that contains one fruit , one protein and one carb
Limit daily caloric intake to 1600 calories
Develop a Plan
As much as I hate planning (call me a free spirit), it’s essential in goal setting. I wouldn’t dare go through life without a financial plan, so why would I go through life without a plan for my health? It’s all about identifying the necessary actions and steps you need to take to meet your goal(s). Here’s a few things to consider when developing a plan.
Evaluate your current position and what needs to change
For each goal, there should be an action plan to help you achieve your goal
Do a weekly or bi-weekly check in to make sure you’re on track. The key is to break down goals into manageable pieces.
Establish milestones and evaluate your progress at each
Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off track. Just be sure to recover as quickly as possible.
Set Obtainable Goals with a Realistic Time Frame
I’m all for being ambitious, but sometimes my ambition gets the best of me. When I learned to swim last year, I knew I wanted to complete a triathlon. I was tempted to sign up for one immediately, but remembered I couldn’t swim in anything deeper than 6 feet, let alone feel comfortable enough to swim with other tri-athletes. Instead I put it on my “Things to Do Before 30 list”. In the meantime, I’m working on improving my strokes in the pool and open water. It’s better to set long-term goals rather than pushing yourself to accomplish a goal and getting frustrated under the time crunch.
Track Your Progress
Now comes the hard part. It’s not enough to just be specific. You must keep track of your progress. As the old adage goes, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. I came across a great tool in the January 2012 issue of Fitness Magazine called FitBook ($23). FitBook is a journal that allows you to track weekly fitness and nutrition goals. It also gives you space to log your workouts and food intake. But remember, if your current plan isn’t working, don’t be afraid to make changes. It may take a while to figure out what works for you. Get Inspired
I always make sure I have inspiration all around me. In my office I have inspirational quotes and affirmations hanging where they are always visible along with my training schedule. I also have my training schedule posted on my bathroom mirror along with “ I will PR 2:20” written with a dry erase marker. It may sound cheesy, but it’s a constant reminder of my goals and gives me the extra push I need when I’m feeling discouraged. Also, running with the Black Girls RUN! running groups helps me stay accountable and gives me the extra push. Don’t Make Excuses
It’s easy to make excuses. I’m tired. I work too much. I’m sleepy. But the truth is, while they all may be true, we find time to do things that aren’t as important to our health (i.e. staying up late to watch television, going to the club, etc.) Instead of falling victim to excuses, for very excuse you make put a dollar into an “Excuses Jar” to be donated to a local charity. Either you won’t make excuses, or your favorite charity will get a hefty donation from you.
Here’s to meeting your goals in 2012!