Okay so you are ready to start setting goals?
Start by asking yourself “What do I want to change?”
What is the “big picture”, long-term goal that you want to achieve?
It could be losing weight, exercising more, learning a new language, getting a promotion, starting a new career… you name it!
Then ask yourself, “If I did [Fill in the blank], how would that make me feel? How would that change my idea of myself or my quality of life?” Having long-term goals is great, but if we do not delve deeper into why we want those things for ourselves, we tend to lose momentum when these new behaviors get to be really challenging.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, ask yourself “why do I want to lose weight?”. How will that change your quality of life? How will that change your perception of yourself? You might find by asking yourself these questions that you want to lose weight because you dislike how your clothes fit. You might find that you want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs at work without getting winded. Or you might find that you think losing weight will help you be able to run around with your grandchildren without having to sit and watch them play with someone else.
Once you have your reasons and motivations, I would recommend writing them down somewhere you can easily see them. For example, you could set a reminder on your phone to go off at certain times of the day (maybe when you usually find yourself struggling), you could write it on a sticky note and place on your bathroom mirror at home, or on your screen saver at work.
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Step 1: Identify a Goal & Why It’s Important
A few questions to ask yourself:
- What do I want to change? What is my big goal?
- Why is this important to me? If I did ____________, how would that make me feel? How will ____________ improve my quality of life? How will my perception of myself be different if I change that?
- What are my values? Does this new goal align with me values?
It is important to remember the why’s and answers to these questions when life happens, and times get tough…so make sure to keep your answers handy.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Plan a course of action by asking yourself:
What do I need to do to get there? What steps do I need to take to achieve this goal? What new habits do I need to build in or remove from my routine?
- What are two immediate changes I could make to my lifestyle that could help me get to my goal?
Step 3: Be Realistic and Start Small
Look at the first change you want to make. Where are you now? What are you currently doing?
For example, the first change might be for you to exercise more. What are you currently doing now for physical activity? Maybe you are not doing anything. Would it be realistic to go from 0 to 6 days a week? No, not for most. Remember to start small. Maybe pick 1-2 days out of the week to go to the gym or walk around your neighborhood. After you do that for 2 weeks or more, add to it either by minutes or additional days of the week. If you cannot stick with the smaller goal, do not add to it until you have mastered the smaller goal. If you find you hate to walk, don’t keep doing it, find another activity you enjoy like dancing or weight lifting.
- What am I currently doing?
- How could I add to that? (Be realistic and start small)
- How important is this to me?
- How confident am I in making and sticking with this change?
If you find that this goal is not important to you (maybe you think this is what you “should” do or what someone has told you to do, but it is not motivating for you), pick another thing to change. If you find you are not confident in reaching that goal AND STCIKING WITH IT FOR THE LONG HAUL, then make it more realistic and attainable so you feel confident, that with some hard work you can achieve it.
Need to scale down? Write out the new version. i.e. start with 15 minutes 4x/week instead of 30 minutes.
- What do you need to prepare to start and continue this new behavior? i.e. keep sneakers at work, create calendar reminder for a walk break, etc.
Repeat with the second change.
Step 4: Plan for Roadblocks
Life happens and roadblocks will pop up. Let’s try to plan for some of those here.
What are some distractions that could hinder me reaching this goal?
- What Roadblocks might come up with change 1? Ex: It is raining on the day I was going to walk outside after work. Or, I am really tired and just want to watch Netflix.
- What will I do to handle them? Ex. I will go the gym after work and walk on the treadmill. I will do my kid’s dance game at home. I will do body weight or weight exercises at home. I will reward myself with a show AFTER my walk.
- What Roadblocks might come up with change 2?
- What will I do to handle them?
Step 5: Write Out Your Goal
Write a specific goal you are willing to commit to:
I will _(behavior)_________________________, _(when)______________________, (frequency)______________ . I will reevaluate my goal in ______________ week(s).
Ex. I will walk 15 minutes, during lunch or break, 4x/week. I will re-evaluate my goal in two weeks.
This goal is important to me because ________________________________ and I feel confident I can achieve this goal because_______________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________.
I need to prepare the following so I can start and continue this new behavior: ___________________ and _______________.
When life happens and roadblocks come up, I will _________________________________.
Step 6: Evaluate Progress
How did it go? Come back and reassess. Anything you want to add to this new habit, or something you want to change? Did how I spend my time over the last few weeks represent my desired priorities and values or did distractions get in the way?
Keep it up and add to it. Add new changes and build on the ones you have already started. Pretty soon, these changes will be part of your routine and you would have forgotten what it was like before doing them.
Remember, you do not need to make these changes on your own! Ask your friends, family and co-workers for support. If you are a Manatee YourChoice Health Plan member, you have many resources available to help you create and stick with your goals.
- Meet with a Registered Dietitian for help in setting and meeting nutrition goals. (First 5 visits at no cost to you).
- Personal Trainers are available to help with your fitness goals. Or, you can grab a friend and do small group personal training! (first 5 sessions at no cost to you).
- Meet with a health coach to set up goals related to a variety of health issues, and create a plan for reaching them! (Restrictions apply; First 5 sessions at no cost to you).
- For help with reducing stress or behavioral health support, contact LAMP (Available to employees and health plan members; First 5 sessions at no cost to you).