Lists are a big part of my life that help me stay on track with my goals. They help me on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to get everything I need done, done. My “results & meeting daily and weekly planner” called “Action Day” helps with this tremendously. I found it at staples early in 2014 and while I am big on not wasting paper and keeping things electronic, this was a huge piece to my organizational puzzle. I take the lists and tasks from my amazing planner and each Sunday write important points/events on another weekly list (that I purchased at target) that merges with my husband’s important to-do’s. This way we are always on the same page. In anyone’s life this can reduce a conflict that may occur if one forgets something big the other had going on or if one may forget to tell the other.
Regardless of how you decide to come up with goals, the most important thing is to always write them down! A goal is just an idea until it is on paper; then it is a commitment. I know in our technology driven world a pen and paper sounds like ancient history, but it is much more meaningful to physically write down a goal that to have it/them in a computer file or in your phone’s notepad. It also enables you to put the goal(s) in a place you will see it/them daily. My husband and I chose to keep our 2014 goals on our refrigerator this past year so we could not avoid them.
Before I get to my method of goal setting for the New Year (or at literally any time), I want to highlight that goals are easier to attain when they are SMART:
Here are examples of common goals one might set for nutrition versus ones that don’t create stress:
Sample “Health” Goal: Lose weight
Sample Unrealistic Goal: Lose 10 lbs in January.
Realistic and sustainable health goal:
Reduce stress and increase confidence through flexible food and fitness choices.
I have one tip for everyone related to the above examples: STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE. Don’t let it define you. In the US we easily let pounds on the scale and BMI define us, when in reality those number often don’t correlate with health.
Many times the “realistic” is the part we forget when setting well thought out goals. Last year my husband had a goal to “always pack lunch for work”. This was completely unrealistic since he has many lunch based meetings and he therefore did not accomplish it. “Bringing lunch to work 3 days per week” is likely a more attainable goal.
Now for my approach to goal setting…
After reading a bit, attending a conference session, and listening to a great RD role model Chere Bork in 2013, I had a discussion with my husband and we decided to take a new approach to the whole “New Years Resolution” thing for 2014. I am ecstatic to say we reached almost all of our goals. The only mutual goal we did not meet was making it to church every single Sunday. The only personal goals I did not achieve were doing my physical therapy exercises twice each week (for my hip and knee from running), and making it to yoga twice every week. I could easily look at this and say I failed at those goals. However, it is much better to focus on what we DO not what we don’t. Looking back, I am able to say we made it to church very frequently and never skipped just to sit around, I ran a half marathon injury free this year (first time in 4 years) and I made yoga a priority any time I was feeling stressed or out of balance. I’d say those are all positives!
Hopefully you are getting motivated to set your own goals. Here is how Tim and I create ours. First, we have determined that we will always set goals together. These goals are for our home, time together, faith, travel, and time for family and friends (you can set others too!). We then set our own personal goals. I believe, at minimum, personal goals should cover the following areas:
-Spirituality or Religion
-Home/physical environment (can even be your office!)
-Family and friends (including significant other)
-Fun and stress relief
As one of the songs in the movie “Frozen” tells kids (love that movie), we too as adults should remember that we are all a “fixer-upper”. No one is perfect and will always have something to work towards. Just because you don’t want a new job or you think you are as healthy as can be does not mean there is nothing to work on. For example here are a couple of goals in these areas for 2014 and this coming year:
Example 2014 Goals
-Finalize and have the exercise science POS approved
-Help students start a nutrition club (spring semester)
-Complete my 3rd half marathon (fall 2014)
-Go to yoga classes twice each week
Example 2015 Goals
-Reach out to local colleges to research a new nutrition program for Bucks (Spring 2015)
-Volunteer in the area of kid’s health and food insecurity (once/month)
-Complete an olympic distance triathlon (by august 2015)
-Eat my lunch without distractions, away from computer/work (3x/week)
For those of you who have struggled with the same goals in the past, ask yourself why. Maybe improving your food intake hasn’t happened for you because you keep going on fad diets or skipping meals. Maybe a better approach is to have small action plans each month that support healthier habits. In January you can eat breakfast every day. In February drink an extra glass of water a half hour before each meal. In March, add a serving of vegetables to your lunch and dinner. If time management is a constant struggle, you may be trying to multi-task too much. The planner I mentioned above may help with that but maybe you also need to find ways to manage stress, prepare meals for the week, or to sleep more. Another tool I recently learned about is found at Em.todolist.com. The program allows the user to create categories and priorities, set reminders, share lists, and set recurring dates.
No matter what approach you decide to take in order to become the best version of you, remember that achieving goals and building new habits will always take time. Finally, stay positive – it makes everything easier!