It’s early March, 50 some odd days into 2020 and the memories of that late night you welcomed the new year are getting hazy. “What did I do for New Years?” might be your response to someone asking and likely the changes you wanted to make this year are starting to get hazy as well. If you are anything like most Americans you go big when making resolutions and goals in general. You try to start eating right, exercising and being nicer to yourself all in the same week that your parents come for a visit and you start a new job. There are very real reasons why goals don’t work and why they need constant attention like a fire you just started. Read on to find out how to blow on that fire just right, what is the best fuel to add and at what time so you can seriously make some of the changes you want. These goal setting tips are based loosely on the SMART system and I recommend using the SMART worksheet when making your first goal.
Step 1: Make your goal really clear. It should sound like “I want to lose 10 pounds over the next month” or “I want to do 20 minutes of exercise everyday for the next month.” Specific goals that are time sensitive and realistic are the ones that get accomplished so let’s start there. “I want to lose weight” leaves too much room for failure and justification and you will never really be able to know if you accomplished it.
Step 2: Make a realistic time goal. Too long and you will lose interest. Too short and you will fail no matter the effort or talent involved. This can be a tricky one when it comes to health because you often do not have all the information you need. When it comes to weight you may not know what a healthy and realistic goal is. You may not understand how inflammation, mental health or habit loops influence your ability to lose weight or you may not have the expertise to design a healthy work out plan. Seek help with this step from a health care provider you trust! We love helping people make goals and can be great partners for holding you accountable (Step 4)
Step 3: Think Big, start small. Goals often involve making significant life changes and the human brain and behavior is notoriously difficult to change. To become part of your daily life in the long run you have to do it enough times. How many times have you brushed your teeth or taken vitamins or gone to gym or written in a journal? You may have a clear goal of where the end point is but make sure to break your goal down into manageable sections so you can measure it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in changing habits when needed. A good Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT) can help or look into apps like Fabulous developed by Duke University.
Step 4: Hold yourself accountable. Did your heart rate rise when you read that last sentence? Humans are incredibly good at justifying behavior and given the chance most people will wiggle out of a goal. One of the best ways to make sure you will accomplish the goal you just made is to share it with the world. Whether that is on Facebook, your fridge at home or just between you and a partner or friend, writing down your goal and sharing it increases your likelihood of working it to completion. Here is a template to work from while you get started.
This blog was written by Dylan Beamer, DC owner of Bellingham Bay Chiropractic and Bellingham resident. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or help with your goals!