“I don’t do resolutions!” Or “I never keep them anyway, so why bother?” I hear this every single year. I know we don’t need a new year to start working towards a goal, but it is a good time to start. There’s usually a lull this time of year where you actually get a chance to sit down and think. A chance to decide where you could use some improvement or an opportunity to build on your strengths!
Each year, I set up a bunch of goals (usually too many). I get frustrated with the goal-setting process too, so I’ve been doing some tweaking and think this year’s plan may be my best set up yet. First, let me explain where I’ve been with this in the past.
“Actionable, Present Tense, Quantifiable”
That’s the advice I’ve always received about goal-setting. You can’t just say “lose weight.” That’s not specific. If you lose 1 ounce, you technically hit your goal, but was that what you wanted? Was that really the end goal? My tendency was to come up with numbers that were a big challenge, but not impossible. (This is also what has been recommended to me regarding goal-setting.)
I found that there were just too many things I would hope to get done in a typical year. I would set some amazing goal like “lose 20 lbs” and get very frustrated because it seemed to take up too much of my attention to make sure I would hit it. Or I would think I had plenty of time to accomplish it and then I would suddenly remember in November what my goal was supposed to be and start freaking out. I tried setting smaller, more incremental goals that I could hit each quarter, but that still got away from me. Or I would set a goal that was too small and it wasn’t really motivating.
Let’s stick with weight loss as the example, since that’s what most people set up as a goal this time of year.
Instead of saying, “I want to lose 20 lbs this year” I would change it to “5 lbs by March 1st” and then another 5 lbs by June 1st, etc. Seems reasonable enough. What happens if you hit the 5 lbs by the first of February? “I’ve got time. I’ll just lose it again before March.” Nope. Wouldn’t happen. The whole “reasonable plan” went straight downhill fast.
Then, if you trying doing that with a bunch of goals like “read 20 books,” you can quickly realize you’re being too ambitious with your goals. What’s the option? Be better about working on your goals? Have fewer goals? Be more reasonable with your goals?
I tried setting fewer goals…
The next phase was to just set fewer goals. My annual “vision board” looked a bit empty, but it was more achievable. However, it wasn’t particularly inspiring, nor did it lead to what I really wanted; a lasting change. Who really cares about losing weight anyway? You want the other stuff that goes along with it. You want to feel better, to have more energy, to sleep better, look better, etc.
So I switched it up. The next year I changed to more “concept” goals instead of “quantifiable” goals I could check off a list. Instead of “lose weight” it was “eat for better energy.” I felt like this should have worked, but it did not work for me. I found without a number to go after, I just couldn’t tell if I was being successful or not. I would say that some positive changes happened, but there just wasn’t any measurable way for me to identify where I was winning or losing.
A better way.
I took what I learned from “Atomic Habits” (Blog post about it here) and applied it to my goal setting. What I really wanted was a lasting change anyway, which is really a new habit. What I was hoping to achieve with the new goal was really all of the actions that I would have to do to achieve that goal.
All of my goals this year are not focused on the result, only the action.
There’s no weight loss goal. There’s no “get more flexible” goal. There’s no goal tied to any kind of result. Only actions. For example, I have a goal of doing yoga 75 times this year. That could very well mean that I’m going twice a day in December 2020, but hopefully it means I average 1 – 2 times a week for the year.
It gives me a target to hit and a quick and easy way to see how far I’m progressing. It also gives me a chance to catch up if things are going off track. I may have to go 3x a week for a couple of weeks if I get sick or just don’t feel like going for a little while. I can still achieve a goal, see a benefit, and repeat the action often enough that it can lead to a habit that I desire.
Right now, I still don’t like yoga.
I like the results so far and I strongly believe it’s a good idea to do yoga for better health. I just don’t particularly like it… yet. I think as I see better results, get into a routine, and get the know the people more, I will start to enjoy it more. (At least that’s the hope.)
Some ideas on how you can implement this as a goal without it turning into something overwhelming. The key element is to find a small and achievable habit you can do often that will help you make progress toward a desired result.
These are just some ideas to get started, but they are also action steps that will help you start a new habit, see some results, and they are all achievable! I hope this will help get your wheels turning on some things you can implement in the coming year.
It is our goal to help you take one more step towards better health. Not everything we share will be specifically related to chiropractic care, but we recognize that improving your health is a lot of habits and actions done consistently and we look forward to being a part of your ongoing health care.