“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” -Tony Robbins
Losing weight can take time. Setting smaller goals along the way can help you stay motivated. Think of your weight loss program as a football game, working your way down the field play by play. Setting goals is like choosing plays: it will help you keep moving forward until you’re victorious. To stay on track with your goals, you should make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Tied to a Deadline. Here’s how to apply them to your weight loss goals.
A vague or general goal will be difficult to evaluate and won’t provide any framework for reaching it. A goal to simply “eat better” may have good intentions, but it will be hard to track your progress. It says nothing about what you will need to do to be successful.
Think of how you’ll work towards your goal and everything you’ll need to get started. Instead of a nonspecific goal like, “I will start exercising this year,” try something more focused. “This week I will walk at least three times for 30 minutes each time.” With this precise objective in mind, you can start thinking of exactly how to reach it.
It’s much easier to evaluate your progress towards a goal if it has units that can be easily measured. By establishing goals that can be tracked, you’ll be able to see how much progress you’ve made. Keep track of how many minutes you exercise or how many days you write down what you’ve eaten.
Time is a useful measurement in the above example. If you track your exercise habits this week and see that you walked three times for 40 minutes each time, you’ve exceeded your goal. If you see that you walked only twice this week for 30 minutes each time, you may need to reevaluate your approach.
Your goals should be challenging enough that they push you to do your best, but you will need to make sure that you can achieve them. Reaching goals that get progressively more difficult will be highly motivating, but goals that are impossible to reach will be frustrating and unfulfilling.
Start small and make each goal slightly more challenging than the one before it. For example, after you’ve walked three times a week for 30 minutes each time, try walking three times a week for 35 or 40 minutes each time.
Make sure that your goals relate to the changes you’re trying to make during your weight loss program, and why you’re making those changes. Remind yourself of why your goals matter. Is more exercise important because it will help you control your diabetes, or because it will give you more energy to play with your children?
Tied to a Deadline
We’re more motivated to get things done when we have a time limit. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete your goal, but not so much that you feel able to procrastinate. For many goals, a week is an appropriate amount of time.
Learning how to set effective and appropriate goals can help you stay motivated and be successful during your weight loss program.
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