6 Ways to Ensure Success when Goal-Setting


How are those resolutions holding up? If you’re doing well, then congratulations, you can look away now. Nothing to see here. 😉

If you’re struggling, or have given up completely, then keep reading!

Let’s look at WHY you’re having trouble. Is it because you didn’t set SMART goals? Maybe you weren’t specific enough about what you wanted, or there was no way for you to measure your level of success. How can you lose weight, for example, if you don’t know what your starting weight is, and what your goal weight is?

Maybe your resolution wasn’t achievable or realistic. For me, I find it hard to hit goals that require a lot of time investment, or a strict schedule. I have an 8-month-old daughter, so promising myself I’ll work out for half an hour every day or that I’ll write a blog post every day just isn’t realistic. BUT I can promise myself that I’ll be more active around the house, and that I’ll write at least one blog post a week. Those are things that are much more do-able and flexible, while still pushing me to get things done.

Maybe you didn’t set a timetable or time limit for yourself. When do you want to have achieved your goal? Or how often do you want to do something?

Maybe you set too stringent a time limit.

Maybe you gave up too soon.

Source: thes4p.com

Source: thes4p.com



Here are some helpful hints and tricks to get you back on track:


1. As mentioned above, set SMART goals.

Aiming to get fit isn’t SMART, but aiming to take up one new sport and committing to attending training at least once a week certainly is.


2. Be flexible.

Life has a tendency to throw curveballs every now and again. By all means promise yourself a workout every morning, but also recognise that, sometimes, that workout might have to wait until later in the day. Or later in the week.

This isn’t an excuse to procrastinate, but rather a reminder to roll with the punches.


3. Be patient.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are good habits. Your house is unlikely to be immaculate after one day of cleaning (but I take my hat off to you if it is). Slow and steady wins the race.


4. Start small.

By all means, dream big. But don’t expect to get there in one big bound. You’re not going to be perfectly organized overnight. Start by buying a calendar or planner and filling in important dates and appointments.

Want to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day? Start by just drinking one glass a day until you get used to it. (If this really is one of your goals, you’ll want to read this.)

Leo Babauta talks about it in this article on habits, which is well worth a read (as is the whole site).


5. Do what you WANT to do, not what you think you SHOULD do.

Recently, I saw a link online advertising the hundred books I “had” to read in 2014. No thank you. I’ll read the type of books I want to read, and I’ll be reading them at my own pace for pleasure, not racing to get through chapters just to tick off two “must reads” a week.

(Believe me, I learned this the hard way after resolving to read “War & Peace” in 2012. I did it because it’s “a classic” and therefore I felt obliged to read it – like I’d somehow be considered stupid if I didn’t. I read it, but I hated pretty much every second of it. Lesson learned.)

If you feel like you’ve resolved to do something that, on reflection, you really don’t want to do, just drop it. Re-examine your resolutions and see if there’s a “should” in there anywhere. Either turn it into a “want” or delete it.


6. Go easy on yourself.

One fall is not failure. If you gave up every time something was hard, or every time you hit an obstacle, you’d never succeed at anything. If artists gave up with every slip of the paintbrush, we wouldn’t have nearly as many masterpieces. If authors gave up when they received a rejection letter, we wouldn’t have nearly as many great, bestselling novels. If babies gave up as soon as they fell over, none of us would be walking!

(Read this post if you still need convincing.)


Remember, no matter how little you think you’ve achieved, you’re still farther along than when you started. When I did Jillian Michaels’ exercise regime ’30 Day Shred’, the only thing that got me through it was not wanting to have to start all over again. I did it every day for 30 days, because there was no way in hell I was going to go back and re-do any of them. 😉


You’re one day closer than you were yesterday. And tomorrow you’ll be one day closer again.


Do you really want to have to pick up and start all over again, or are you going to pull up your socks and make it a little bit further?


Runners don’t go back to the starting line every time they feel out of breath, trip up, or get cramp. They take a breather, and then keep on going.


Are you going to fall and use it as an excuse to fail, or are you going to get back up and finish anyway?


How to achieve anything you set your mind to – the SMART way


So, it’s that time of year again – New Year’s resolutions. I used to start every year with the same goals – get fit, eat healthy foods, be better organised… And guess what? Like 99.9% of people who make resolutions, I failed. Miserably. Why? Because they weren’t SMART resolutions.

I had heard of the SMART way of setting goals while working in retail many years ago, but it meant nothing to me at the time. If I’d listened a bit more back then, I might not have wasted so much potential in the interim.


source: Shutterstock

source: Shutterstock



So how can you achieve pretty much anything you set your mind to?


You set SMART goals. That is, goals that are:

SPECIFIC
MEASUREABLE
ACHIEVABLE
REALISTIC
TIMELY

Let’s take the example of getting fit, which is one of the most popular resolutions people make every year. Does it fit the SMART criteria?


Is it specific?

Uh oh, a stumble at the first hurdle. Being “fit” means different things to different people, but I think it’s safe to say it will involve some form of exercise. How much? And what type? “Fit” to one person might mean being able to run a 5k race, but “fit” to an overweight chain-smoker might mean being able to climb a flight of stairs without gasping for breath.

Do you consider a yoga practitioner fit? Or someone who runs a marathon once a year? Or does your idea of “fit” involve bulging biceps? Figure out what “fit” means to you. Maybe it’s something as simple as being able to keep up with your kids.

Get specific about what you want.


Is it measureable?

Leading on from the above, how do you measure fitness? There is always room for improvement, so you need to define the point at which you will consider yourself fit. Is it when you can complete a series of yoga positions with ease? Is it when you can swim 50 laps of the pool without stopping?

Set a tangible target that, when hit, will tell you that you’ve reached your goal.


Is it achievable?

There’s no point giving yourself a goal of running a marathon if you’ve barely been off the couch. It’s OK to be positive and to set your sights a little higher than before, but it also needs to be well within the realms of possibility. A 5k race is much more achievable, while still stretching your abilities. Once that’s done, set your sights on a 10k. Once you’ve mastered that with relative ease, then perhaps consider a marathon.

If you’re unsure if something is achievable, set yourself a smaller goal and then build on it.

Building on success

Is it realistic?

Let’s say you want to get fit in order to climb Mount Everest. Sure, that’s quite specific, and yes, if you plant a flag on the peak, that’s a pretty good measurable indicator. It’s even an achievable goal, in theory. But is it realistic? You might start out climbing hills, and then increase the altitudes, but this goal will require a lot more than “getting fit”; This goal will require a lot of time and a LOT of money.

Climbing the local mountain range on weekends is one thing – taking several weeks off from work and family, and buying expensive equipment and airplane tickets is quite another.

Examine what exactly is involved, and be honest with yourself.


Is it timely?

That is, is it measurable in time? This is a very important one. Your goal to get fit might meet all of the above criteria, but unless you set a time frame, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Without a deadline, a goal is merely a wish. You might wish you could run a 5k race, but until you challenge yourself to run it within the next 10 weeks, your chances of actual completion are slim. You’ll always be working on it, but never be able to check it off your list.

Similarly, a deadline that’s far into the future may as well be no deadline at all. Do you think that if I tell myself I’ll be able to do 100 sit-ups by the end of the year that I’m going to make any progress at all for the first 11 months? Giving myself 4 weeks, however, will help to focus my mind a lot more and give me something concrete to work towards.

Some things will require one deadline and that’s it. For instance, you might have “run a marathon” on your bucket list, but have no desire to maintain that level of fitness after you’ve completed it, and that’s totally fine.

But some things aren’t just about deadlines, or one single point in time. I might push myself to the limits on deadline day and just barely manage 100 sit-ups. Does that mean I’m now “fit”? Of course not. What most people mean when they say they want to get fit is that they want to reach a certain level of fitness, and then either stay there or continue to improve gradually. They want to be able to do 100 sit-ups 3 times a week, or swim 50 laps of the pool once a week, or run a marathon once a year…

Set yourself a deadline and, if necessary, a way of tracking your progress over time.

Creating SMART goals

Example of a pre-SMART resolution: get fit.

Example of a post-SMART resolution: complete a beginners yoga class within 10 weeks, and then practice yoga for 10 minutes at least twice a week.

Specific (yoga practitioner), Measurable (class completed and twice weekly sessions), Achievable (beginners level), Realistic (one course, and short sessions thereafter), and Timely (10 weeks initially, then weekly goals).


Now it’s your turn. Have you made some resolutions? Examine each in turn and see if they meet the SMART criteria.

Comment below and let me know what your resolutions look like pre-and post-SMART.