What progress have you made towards your goals? Did you start with some New Year’s resolutions? And let’s be honest with yourself, are you still working towards them with the same energy as the first week of the new year, or have they fallen to the wayside while other things have taken priority?
Now if you fall into the group of people that have moved your priority to other areas of your life and have focused on other more pressing things, understand this is life and things happen that pull us away from the most perfectly laid plans. Yet, there is a way to life-proof your goals, and although it is pretty simple it does require you to be deeply honest with yourself.
Finding clarity around the goals you want to achieve and the changes you want to make is the key to life-proofing your goals. The reason is that you get very clear about what you need to change, how you are going to make those changes, how these new changes will fit into your life, and how these changes may impact (positively and negatively) other areas in your life.
Let’s say, for example, you want to get into the best shape of your life and you set that as your New Year’s resolution 4 months ago. You may have started off strong by going to the gym more often but life got busy and now you’re not going to the gym as often as you had planned to at the beginning. As a result, you’re not seeing the progress that you wanted to have seen by now. Now let’s apply the questions from before.
What’s your end goal?
So you want to get into the best shape of your life, what does that look like? Are you looking for a six-pack? Supper low body fat (which depending on how low you want to go may not be healthy long term)? Or do you want to increase your fitness so that you can do the activities you want to do with ease? Understanding your endpoint will determine what you need to include in your plan to reach your goal, and leads you to the next question.
What do you need to change?
Now that you know the end goal, let’s get clear on what needs to change to achieve it. Sticking with the example, getting into the best shape of your life requires you to look at your sleep, eating, activity, and stress management. If you are not eating right you won’t have the energy to be active. If you’re not sleeping well you won’t be recovering well from what activities you do do. If you’re not managing your stress well then it can impact your eating habits and sleep quality. Rarely does health and fitness require changes in only one area of health. If that feels daunting, break down the changes you want to make into habits that can be done consistently. Sustainable change is all about baby steps.
How are going to make these changes?
Now that we have identified the changes that need to be made, now is the time to figure out what the plan is to achieve your goal. Get specific in what habits you want to implement and set up a method that will help you track your progress. Think about and set up routines that you can fit into your life that will help you include the habits in a way that works with your current responsibilities and schedule. Figure out when would be a good time to prep meals, when you have the time to go to the gym or work out consistently, and morning and night routines that will insure that you get the rest that you need. Are you a morning person? If you are, maybe your morning routine would be the best time to hit the gym. If you’re not a morning person, like myself, maybe the morning is the time that you focus on self-care and stress management. The more aware you are about your energy levels, how you respond to stress, and the responsibilities that you have (be it work, kids, family, etc) the more likely you will be able to commit to and follow through with the plan.
How are these new changes going to fit into your life … Now?
When we are making a plan to change an aspect of our life, we often think about the changes that we want to make completely detached from our current life. Of course, going to the gym might seem “easy” in isolation from the rest of our life, but going to the gym for an hour also has to include the time need to get to and from the gym, shower, getting ready for the gym, and time in the gym, so now your blocking out 2 hours of your day in activities related to going to the gym. Same can be said for eating healthy and stress management. If you have a job, family, and other hobbies and responsibilities, your time and energy is limited, and all these things will become excuses if not considered when starting.
How these changes may impact (positively and negatively) other areas in your life?
Making changes will have a ripple effect throughout your life, for better or worse. Making time to go to the gym, eating well, and getting a good night’s sleep might impact how many late nights out on the town you might have the time and energy for. This is where getting clear on what your priorities are is key. How much do you value the things that you might no longer have the time and energy for? Do you value it more than the work needed to achieve your goal? Is there a way to combine those things you value with the habits you are forming to achieve your goals? Let’s take going out with friends as an example. Maybe the changes your make to get better sleep are preventing you from doing activities that you had been doing with them, so as you prioritize your quality sleep you might be spending less time with your friends. Spending time with friends and family is still important for your mental health. So instead of cutting out all time out with friends find ways to include them in activities that will help you reach your goal. Meet up for lunch instead of going out at night. Finding local hiking trails, climbing wall, exercise classes, or other activities that are fun ways to spend time together while being active. This allows you to continue to work towards your goal, while maintaining healthy relationships
Getting clear about your goals means that you’re planning out the steps to achieve them; as well as setting up a plan to get back on track when life happens and knocks you off the original plan. Identifying what might be an obstacle and how you will deal with them, will help reduce stress when things happen. Changes can be difficult as sometimes the things that you want to do and the things that will help you meet your goals will differ. The aim is progress, not perfection, and to have fun along the way!