Many people like to make some form of healthy lifestyle resolution at the start of a New Year but these types of changes can actually be made at any time of year. For new lifestyle changes to become a permanent part of your life, it is important that you feel ready to make the change.
Some of the most common resolutions are to give up or reduce alcohol intake, stop smoking, lose weight and do more exercise. Once you have decided on your positive lifestyle change, how do you stop yourself slipping back into old habits? This is where goal setting comes in. The goal of losing weight, for instance, is not specific enough to hold your attention and not to stray. Setting goals requires a more focussed approach.
The acronym SMART is used in goal setting and can be applied to any goal, not just goals related to healthy living. It will helps you come up with a specific plan. It is also important to write goals down – a goal is just a wish until it is written down!
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time constrained.
S = Specific: the goal needs to be stated in specific terms. Saying you want to get fit is not specific enough. Do you want to improve aerobic fitness, strength or flexibility?
M = Measurable: whatever specific goal you have chosen, you need to quantify it. For example, if your goal is to lose fat, you need to quantify that i.e. to reduce body fat by 2%, to lose one stone in weight or to fit into a specific clothes size.
A = Achievable: goals need to be achievable. There is no point in setting a goal that cannot be met. It will end up being a de-motivator.
R = Realistic: external factors which might affect success should also be taken into account. An example might be an event (Birthday, Christmas, holiday etc) which falls within the period of the goal.
T = Time constrained: a deadline needs to accompany the goal. For example, if your goal is to lose one stone, it needs a time frame such as 3 months.
If your goal is fairly big, break it up into smaller, more manageable goals. This way you still feel you are achieving. In addition to the goal, promising yourself a reward to achieving that goal can also help with motivation. Make sure that your reward does not hinder your progress – i.e. rewarding yourself a large box of chocolates would be counterproductive if your goal is to lose weight. However, make sure your reward is something that is worthwhile and that you want in order for it to help to motivate you.
And finally, when setting goals, it is vitally important that they are written down! This part is often forgotten. You need to write down your starting point, the goal in details (following the SMART procedure), the results of intermediary shorter term goals and any measurements taken along the way. Looking back at your achievements when the going gets tough can often be enough to rekindle your motivation.
If you would like support in becoming more physically active, improving your diet, stopping or reducing smoking and reducing your alcohol intake then why book an appointment with a Health Trainer? Looking at these behaviours and changing them can support you with self-confidence and motivation. Call 0300 003 4566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or book a free session.