Are you feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start when it comes to reaching your goals this 2023? Goal setting is an important part of realizing success and overcoming obstacles. Having a plan for reaching your dreams helps keep you motivated and organized, allowing for progress each step along the way. Whether you're looking to advance in your career, improve relationships with family or friends, or just find more free time to dedicate towards hobbies; goal setting will help get you there!
In this post Denel discusses simple strategies that can be tailored based on individual needs.
How To Set and Achieve Goals This Year
- General Goal
- Stage of Change
- SMART Goals
- Behavior Management Tools
“I think everybody knows they should probably exercise, eat some vegetables, and get sleep. I think we all knew that. But how come some of us are able to do it? And some of us really struggle?”
The first thing Denel asks people is, “what is the behavior you would like to work on?”. Denel believes that it doesn't really matter what she thinks and that her job is to listen to her clients and figure out where they're coming from so that she can help them make the changes that they want to make.
Common Goals (What behavior would you like to work on?)
Stages of Change
Denel shared the Prochaska's Stages of Change Model which defines the stages that people go through as they change their behavior.
We start in Precontemplation when we're not even thinking about it. Somehow we know that we should be doing things, but we're not. It's not even in our consciousness. Then we move into Contemplation, which means we are now thinking about it. It’s like getting a mail about a newly opened gym around the corner and you’re like “that sounds interesting!” and you hang the mail on your refrigerator and that’s it. Preparation is when you're actually taking steps to move towards your goal. That means when you got that same flyer, preparation would be you calling and seeing if you can get a tour of the gym. Action is when you're actually starting to move towards that goal. When you get the flyer in the mail, it would be “I'm gonna go, I'm meeting a friend there, we're going twice a week. We're getting started moving towards my long-term goal.”
If you want to lose weight or you don’t want to eat the Halloween candy that's sitting next to you or you want to start having better sleep habits, how do you actually put that into a format that can be meaningful? How do you make sure that your goal is not too general that it doesn’t give you any guidance?
Make your goal Specific and Measurable. If you say you want to lose weight, what does that really mean? A lot of times what we really want is to lose fat. We don’t really want to be losing muscle and lean body mass. We might have to lose a little, but in general it's the fat that we want to lose and that means that we have to measure it by using a body composition scale that will tell us how much of our body is fat, how much is lean body mass, etc. A regular scale isn't going to give us the information that we need. And that’s definitely something that Denel provides for her clients.
Your goals have to be Achievable and Realistic. For example, if you are sitting next to your Halloween candies. Is it realistic to not eat any Halloween candy? For most people it's not realistic to not have candy ever again. So what can we do to make that goal manageable and realistic? Maybe what that means is moving the candy away so you are not staring at it. Then pick two fun-sized candy bars to eat every day. Try to sit down at the table while you eat them, focus and actually enjoy your food.
Timely simply means that there has to be an end to your goal because how else will you know if you're done? How else will you be able to go and pat yourself on the back for a good job? How else will you be able to evaluate yourself and say, “that works really well”, or on one hand say “I'm not so sure about this part, I should probably change or tweak this goal”.
There are probably a few people who are able to quit a bad habit easily, but generally speaking, you want to set up some strategies to help make your goal manageable.
Some of the strategies may involve tracking your behavior even before you start to change. You might just be in Contemplation or Preparation stage and so you can start tracking your behavior without even trying to change it just yet. You can try writing a food log or a food mood log. We can't really change our eating habits until we know what we’re actually eating or why we're choosing those food.
Having a partner is very powerful. If you want to change your exercise habits, how much easier is that if you're meeting a buddy at the gym instead of just doing something by yourself. There are so many fitness programs out there where people can sign up and watch workout videos but how many people are successful with that? Only a few. Most people need that live component of having someone to exercise with.
Another idea is to reward yourself in some way. If your goal is to lose weight you probably shouldn't necessarily reward yourself with food as that takes it backwards. Instead, you could reward yourself by buying a new pair of jeans or spending time with friends.
Denel said that trying to predict the obstacles that might come up is important. We can't just do everything with willpower and white knuckling if we predict the things that are going to be challenging for us. Like Halloween candy, ask yourself what do you want Halloween to look like this year? How is that gonna work with your long-term goals? And then you change your environment to make it more likely for that to happen.
"In my case, we do have Halloween candy around here and I like sugar. But the candies are in a cupboard in another room. So if the kids or I want something, you actually have to go somewhere else to get it. It's not visible. Or some people will put two fun-sized candy bars in a Ziploc for every day and label it candy for the day. Whatever it is that works for you." - Denel
We all have different cravings, different environments. We live in different places, so we have to narrow down what will work for each of us.
For Denel, this is a piece of what's missing in a lot of fitness plans. We need to talk about what our goal is. We need to predict how to change our behavior and then we need to look at what obstacles may come up that will make it hard. Because guess what? There are going to be obstacles.
“This is definitely one of the things that I've tried to focus on in my business - helping people figure out these behavioral things that are holding them back and try to actually critically think about how we can make that easier. How we can get that environment surrounding them, whether it's the community of people around them, whether it's their physical space, whatever it may be, to encourage them to meet their goals instead of standing in their way.”
Denel's Specialties: 1. Virtual Accountability Groups encompassing exercise, nutrition, stress management 2. Fun, effective, pain-free virtual Group Exercise Classes 3. Personal Training
Denel's ideal clients: Perfectly imperfect people who could benefit from a fun and supportive online community. People who may feel intimidated by the gym due to COVID, feeling overweight or uncoordinated, recovering from injuries, etc. Behavior change is hard and nonjudgmental guidance is key!
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