It’s that time again, a new year, a fresh start. You may be feeling anxious to get started on attacking your resolutions headstrong however I am going to suggest that you slow down a bit and take a moment to plan ahead. This exercise should take you about 20 minutes, but will save you months of back tracking so sit down, grab a pen and a piece of paper and let’s do this!
Remember being in grade school and having to report on Current Events for your Social Studies class? Well I am going to encourage you to do the same when developing your 2018 goals; we’re going to break down the Who, What, When, Where’s, and Why’s. Although you probably have a list of New Year’s resolutions, pick ONE. You can do this with each goal however realistically I probably wouldn’t choose more than three. Focus your energy on 1-3 this year and 2019 can be the year you focus on the others on that list. There will always be things that need change and improvement, but only a few can be top on the priorities list. It may be helpful to break them down into categories: personal, professional, relationship, financial, spiritual, health and fitness, etc. It’s not to say that the other goals get completely neglected, but they are not going to soak up the majority of your attention. Since I am a Registered Dietitian I am going to focus this exercise on nutrition related goals, but you are welcome to use this strategy with any other! So here we go…
Who: “Who” may seem like an obvious answer, you’re probably reading this and thinking ME of course! Well yes, you of course is correct however there are other people in your life that can help or hurt your progress and you need to take a minute to define who those people are.
- Example Goal A- You are trying to eat less sweets but you have that one friend who brings you homemade desserts on a regular basis.
- Example Action Plan A- I am not suggesting you need to de-friend that person, however you may need to speak up a bit. Tell him/her that you are serious about your health and although you appreciate the love and attention she shows through his/her homemade sweets, it is not something that will help you get to your goal.
- Example Goal B- You are trying to lose weight and get healthy but every year you tell yourself the same thing and have yet to make progress.
- Example Action Plan B- Schedule an appointment with a nutrition expert like a Registered Dietitian (RD). RD’s can help you find realistic solutions to your nutrition plan and teach you how and why to eat healthy long-term so you never have to “diet” again.
- Example Goal C- You want to start going to the gym on a regular basis but don’t know how to use the machines or what exercises to do when you get there.
- Example Action Plan C- Invest in a personal trainer who can teach you the fundamentals and proper form. By working with a trainer you will stay motivated and on track longer than expected and your likelihood of developing an injury decreases significantly.
What: “What” is also the “How”. This is the meat of the action steps and when developing these you must remember the quote, “Success is in the details” so the more you think this through the better off you’ll be. Read through the progression and you will learn to understand how goal C will most likely produce results in the long run.
- Example Goal A- “I will eat more vegetables.”
- Example Action Plan A- “I will add a side salad to dinner each night.”
- Example Goal B- “I will eat 5 servings of vegetables each day.”
- Example Action Plan B- “I will snack on cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, or snap peas each day and fill half of my dinner plate with cooked greens.”
- Example Goal C- “I will eat 5 servings of vegetables each day.”
- Example Action Plan C- “Sunday’s I will roast broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts so they are ready to add to my lunch and dinner. I will pack snack bags of tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and snap peas so they are ready to come with me to work each day. If I don’t have time to cook the vegetables, I will make sure to always have frozen options in my freezer so that they can be ready in 5 minutes or less to add to any meal. I’ll purchase bags of salad that are ready to eat since I don’t want to waste time washing, cutting, and prepping when I get home from a long, tiring day at work.
The more specific you are, the better however when you begin to take action don’t get caught up in the details. This activity is meant to prepare you, get you thinking, and planning ahead, but you will have times where the plan doesn’t go as anticipated so you must be ready to adjust in such times. That does not mean choose the cheeseburger and french fries when vegetables aren’t available, it means do the best you can in that moment and make every effort to follow through the next time.
When: “When” is putting a time frame to your goal(s). We know the BIG goal is set for January 2019 but what are the small goals that will help you get there? It can be overwhelming to think of all that you need to accomplish in 12 months so I suggest breaking it down into 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, and 9 month segments.
- Example Goal A- You have 50 pounds to lose this year.
- Example Action Plan A- You will aim to lose about 4 pounds per month, which is about 1 pound per week so by April 2018 you would be 12 pounds lighter, by July 2018 you would be 24 pounds lighter, by October 2018 you would be 36 pounds lighter, and by January 2019 you would have reached your weight loss goal of 50 pounds.
It won’t go perfectly but when the weight comes off it will stay off when done in small, progressive increments. I don’t know about you but just the thought of losing one pound per week sounds a whole lot less intimidating than losing 50 pounds!
Where: “Where” do you need to be to help your goals become a reality. The gym? The home? Are you working later than your scheduled time and that’s why you’re not able to make it to that gym class you’ve been wanting to take? Do you surround yourself with temptations in the home? Do you need to remove the candy dish from the work office? Do you need to create a workout space in your living room? Do you need to spend more time in the kitchen? These are all questions you should be asking yourself to find the answers to success!
Why: Your “Why” is the most important “W”. This is what will keep you going and achieving your goals. The second you forget about your why, is the same second you stop trying. The quote that comes to mind when discussing your why is this: “Our desire to change must outweigh our desire to stay the same.” When we want something to change we do everything in our power to change it because it matters to us. I can think of hundreds of more cliche quotes to describe why the “why” is so important to figure out, but rather than dragging on this article I’ll just refer you to one of my earlier post that describes this segment in greater detail: Finding Your Why.
Once you have clearly defined your 5 “W’s” and have written them down, I want you to put that piece of paper in a location that you can look at on a regular basis, if not daily. In the beginning you’ll feel motivated and ready but by February/March you’ll be finding these changes are hard to stick to. If that’s the case, review the steps you are taking to get there and ask yourself:
- Are they timely and realistic?
- Am I taking extreme measures to reach my goals?
- Do I need to put less pressure on myself?
- Do I need to be more disciplined and structured?
- Do I still want the big goal?
Your goals may need to be tweaked along the way and that is okay. If you need help developing or following through with your health goals I am more than happy to provide you with guidelines and strategies. Send me an e-mail to TipsWithToni@gmail.com and let’s chat about it. 2018 is your year. Grasp it, control it, and make it your healthiest year yet!
Want to hear how I explain these tips? Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and watch it here: Making 2018 Your Healthiest Year Yet.