Goals are a fantastic thing to have. And I’m sure you’ve heard about SMART goals, but just in case, here’s a refresher. Goals should be:
Specific – Not just “I wanna be healthy”, but “I want to be healthier by losing weight”.
Measurable – Not just “I want to lose weight”, but “I want to lose 20 lbs”. Or “I want to drop my cholesterol by 3 points”.
Attainable – Is your goal even possible? Have you achieved it in the past? Do you know others who have gotten there?
Realistic – Even if a goal is possible (running a marathon in under 3 hours, say), it might not be realistic for you.
Timely – There needs to be a time limit. A goal is a dream with a deadline. Without that time aspect, you can find yourself pushing out your goal forever.
So do you have your SMART goal now? Great! Now, we want to focus on the PROCESS that will get us to that goal. HOW will you reach your goal? You might say something like “I will lose 20 lbs in 4 months by eating no more than 1500 calories per day and exercising for 30 minutes 3 times a week.” Your goal is losing weight. The process you have is your diet and exercise plan. The idea here is that if you completely ignored your goal, but still stuck to your process, you would get to your destination regardless.
Many small wins
Focusing solely on your goal means that nothing but that matters. It makes the journey to get there a slog and no fun. This increases the likelihood that you get burned out. By focusing on our process instead, we give ourselves the chance to get many small wins. Every trip to the gym is a victory. Every day you hit your eating goals is a triumph. Every healthier choice is a success!
I’m sure you’ve also seen plenty of motivational images about how healthy living is a lifestyle. And it is! If you go on a diet merely to reach a goal, and once there, you stop and go back to your old habits, you’ll end up right back where you started. Goals are fantastic, but we must be cautious of having them be this huge end all be all for us. I trained for and ran a marathon once. After the race, I had no other running goals, and decided to take a short break from running to “reward” myself and recover. I meant for it to be a month. I didn’t run again for over a year! Fall in love with the process instead, and you’ll find it so much easier to keep up your habits well beyond once you’ve reached your goals.
In order to have permanent change, the changes we make must be permanent. This is why it is so important to find a process that works for YOU. In that vein, I’ve created a 13-diet comparison guide that goes through the pros and cons of some of today’s most popular eating plans and give my recommendations on each so you can determine which might work best for you for the long haul. It’s free, so check it out!