We are all familiar with the process of deciding to change, deciding on a goal we want to achieve, and then going for that goal with every piece of will power that we’ve got. This is something that usually happens round about new year, when getting ready for summer or after a doctor’s visit. It usually goes something like: “I need to lose 20 kg. As of tomorrow, I will only drink water and rooibos tea. I will exercise at least 45 min every day, and I will live off salads for the next three months. I will get healthy!”. The problem is, this intention to change only last about 3 weeks max before you are worn out, super hungry and end up bringing on the first pizza that comes your way. And when this happens, you end up feeling guilty and like a failure.
This is a normal process. You are not a failure if any of this sounds familiar. You just need to set yourself up for success instead!
Step 1: First determine your end goal.
This is the main goal that you want to reach, e.g. I want to lose 20 Kg. We call these types of goals outcome goals.
Step 2: Determine your “Why?”
After determining your outcome goal, which can be anything from wanting to lose 20 kg to being able to do a pull up, take a piece of paper and write down how achieving this goal will change you for the better. Ask yourself the following questions:
· How will achieving this goal make your life better, and make you happier?
· What are you willing to do in order to achieve this goal? E.g. are you willing to join a gym, do food prep, spend a certain amount of time away from your family while exercising etc.
· What are you not willing to do/ sacrifice to achieve this goal? E.g. Are you willing to pay for a gym membership?
· How do you want to feel after achieving your goal? Do you want to feel more confident? Stronger? Sexier?
· By when do you want to reach your goal? Is it feasible to attempt this goal in your proposed time frame?
· Who is motivating you? Are you self-driven to reach this goal, or is it for someone else?
Step 3: Consider your responsibilities
You need to consider the demands and responsibilities of your lifestyle, and how reaching your goal will fit in, instead of trying to force your existing responsibilities and demands to fit to your plan. For example, your new 5 day per week training schedule cannot be at cost of your job or children. Take out your diary, see if there are any big events, parties or holidays coming up and plan accordingly instead of trying to just push through them. If you plan, you will be able to find a golden median between still attending to your plans, whilst staying on track for your goals.
Step 4: Determine your non-negotiables
Consider the things that you are not willing to change to achieve this goal. What are the things that will make you unhappy if you give them up? Such as having pizza night with your kids or having that glass of wine on a Sunday afternoon. These are also important to acknowledge. Decide which of the things in your life brings you joy, and which you are willing to sacrifice; which are just too precious and important to give up? Consider these things and build them into your plan to achieve your end goal, instead of trying to avoid and give them all up, thereby becoming unhappy and demotivated.
Now we can start working on your behavior-based goals
This refers to the things that you are willing to do in order to achieve your goal. You can think of your goal as your destination, and your behaviour goals as all the pitstops you need to go past in your journey to get to your destination. If your goal is to lose 20 Kg, some of your behaviour goals might be to exercise three times per week, and to do food prep every week so that you have healthy food on hand. You should be confident that you will be able to easily achieve your behaviour goals, for example, going to gym 3 times per week for 40 minutes vs 1 hour of resistance training followed by 1 hour of cardio for 5 days per week.
The secret is that your behaviour goals should be easy to achieve in order to set you up for success. Start off with 2 behaviour goals: once you are able to achieve these goals consistently for two consecutive weeks, add another behaviour goal while continuing with the initial two. This way, the change will gradually become part of your lifestyle, without overwhelming you, yet providing you with a sense of achievement along the way.
By following these steps, you can achieve your goals, while knowing that it actually aligns with your lifestyle. This helps to keep you consistent and set you up for success!