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If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot of things you want to accomplish in life. Goals for work, my house, and my health. So I set a lot of goals. I love setting goals. Writing them down, thinking about how great life will be when I accomplish them. BUT, I’m not actually very good at following through on them. In fact I can be very bad at it. Being a perfectionist doesn’t help at all. Instead, I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself and stressing myself out!
So today I’m going to talk about 5 Don’ts of setting goals and then how to set goals you’ll actually keep.
1. Try to accomplish too many things at once.
When it comes to goals, this is my biggest downfall. With so much to accomplish in life, it may be tempting to try and choose a goal in every category of your life: learn a language, read x number of books, workout every day, master a clean eating home cooked diet, grow wealth, get that promotion, keep a clean house… It’s super easy to overwhelm yourself. My first attempt at a habit tracker about sent me nuts. The entire page was a long list of things I wanted to get done every day. I barely made it five days before I was exhausted and gave up.
Choose one to two things each month to focus on. If you do those one to two things every day for a month, they will become a habit. Once it’s a habit after weeks of focus, you can somewhat put that one thing on autopilot, and move your attention onto a new goal.
2. Set goals that will eat up all your time.
This is another pitfall of mine. As a very ambitious person, I choose to go big in a lot of areas of my life. And I know I can achieve it. But at what cost? I could put that picture of the newest body-sculpting supermodel up on my wall and decide I want to look like her by the end of the year. And I could probably very well achieve it. If I slaved at the gym for three hours every day…
One of the fastest ways to reach goal burnout is to choose mega time consuming goals. I’m not saying don’t go for it, if it’s your dream. By all means, we’ve seen transformation stories of people who jumped in with both feet and came out shining stars. But if you’re like me, and your goal can be met by just being healthy and losing those stubborn last 10 pounds, then chose a more moderate, achievable goal. Going to the gym for 1 hour, 5 times a week is both healthy and will allow you to enjoy other past times as well.
3. Live with an all or nothing mentality about goals.
This is by far the hardest thing for us perfectionists. We set that goal. Let’s say that goal is to not drink soda for a month. You make it 3 days. Great! You make it a week straight. Awesome! But then you get to that friend’s birthday party. It’s been a hard week. They’ve got soda all around. You need the caffeine to get you through everything you have to do after this. You do it. You have that soda. It’s amazing. Then you feel bad about it. You lost your streak. You gave up on your goal. It’s over. So the next day you have a soda at dinner because what the heck? By the week after, there’s nothing left of the original goal but that habit tracker paper you printed off the Internet with those first seven days ticked off and now it’s buried on your desk somewhere to be thrown away in a couple of months. Sound familiar??
Lose that all or nothing mentality about goals. So you slip up. Fine. Get over it! And get back with it the next day. Or hour. So what you drank that soda? That’s 260 calories that you weren’t intending on drinking. So what? But if you suddenly gave up and had a soda every day for the rest of the month (3 weeks), before restarting your goal the next month, that’s 5,460 calories. If you got back on your goal bandwagon the next day you could have done 5,460 calories less that month. Same thing with going to the gym. If you are busy and can’t make it Wednesday, don’t give up on Thursday and Friday! That’s two workouts that are valuable even if Wednesday wasn’t.
4. Double Up Your Lost Time.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to double up when you miss something. This gets back into time consuming goals. If you wanted to study a language for 30 minutes a day. However, you miss a day, and decide to do an hour the next day, fine. But what happens when the next day is busy, and the next? Then you keep stacking up time against yourself with the feeling that you need to do it all. You suddenly have two to three hours to make up. Eventually you’ll give up just to make the pressure go away. Instead just count that day as a loss, and start again tomorrow with its own thirty minutes. If you have extra time, Great! If not, let it go. Just keep moving on toward your goals with each new day.
5. Feel like you can only start at a specific time (New Years, the first of the month, Sunday’s)
Admit it. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We wait for a specific time to start. We think “I’ll have that ice cream now, but on Sunday, I’ll start dieting.” And then that becomes Monday, because Monday is a good day to start too. But not Tuesday. Oh no, I can’t start a new workout plan on Tuesday. It’ll have to wait until Sunday again.
Jump in with both feet. When you decide to go for something do it. If you’re on your lunch break planning the goals you’ll start Sunday, throw it away and start today! Go to the gym on your way home on a Thursday if that’s what it is! The best day to start to change is today! No time like the present!
How To Make You’ll Actually Keep With Smart Goals:
The best way to set goals you’ll actually keep is the SMART acronym. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound.
I’ll walk you through it. I’ll use health as an example since it’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions.
First, choose a SPECIFIC goal.
Be healthier may be a good general goal. But it’s not specific. What EXACTLY do you want? Say, for example, I want to lose weight. That’s more specific.
Second, make it MEASURABLE.
Easy. That means attach a number to it. So now say, I want lose 50 pounds this year. It’s measurable, you’ll know exactly when you reach your goal.
Third, make sure it’s ATTAINABLE.
Choose a number you can see yourself doing. This goes back to what I said earlier about making sure you don’t choose goals that will eat up all of your time to achieve. Sure you can lose 200 pounds in a year. But are you prepared to give up your social life too? You might get a month in and realize, you’re not. Choose a more attainable goal. Once you make it, you can always set a new goal!
Fourth, choose a RELEVANT goal.
This goes back to what I said earlier about choosing too many goals. I have a lot of goals that would be nice. They would improve my life, but they’re not a necessity. Some goals, like finances or health may be more pressing. Choose the one that’s always on your mind. If you stress about money, make this year, the year of financial peace. Get your finances in order. Or, if you dread the mirror, tackle that weightless goal this year. De-stress that part of your life. Then next year, choose the next most important thing to you.
Lastly, put a TIME limit on it.
If there’s no deadline, you’ll procrastinate it. For me, the shorter the deadline, the more likely I am to achieve it. Going back to our weight loss example. 50 pounds in 1 year is a great goal. 1 year is a good time limit. By December 31st, I want to weigh … BUT, making it shorter is even better. For example, I could choose that I want to lose 5 pounds by February 1st. It’s closer, more urgent and I’m more likely to get it done. If 50 pounds in a year was my resolution, I’d make it a goal to lose 5 pounds every month for 10 months, then I would maintain the goal weight for 2 more months (November and December, besides holiday months are tricky)! The more time bound you make your goal, the more focused you will become.
Want a stylish way to keep track of your goals this year?
Click on any of these adorable planners to head on over to Target.com and pick up one out. I personally have the black and white striped one and love it! Remember, you can order online and pick up in store to avoid the hassle!