Setting Goals for Success
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” - Unknown
Nearly all Americans set personal goals at the beginning of a new year to make themselves better. One of the top things that people look to change are in health and self-improvement. We have compiled a few techniques to help you succeed in making and maintaining health behavior changes.
These are tips we regularly use to help patients in cardiac rehab set and achieve their goals in their journey toward better heart health. Here they are...
1. Change your mind set. Think positive thoughts about moving forward.
2. Don’t let yourself think, "What if I fail?" Instead, think about how great it would be if you succeed! Like Dr. Joe Vitale said, “A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.”
3. Identify barriers or anything else that may stop you from achieving your goals. Adjust your plans accordingly, but don’t change your goal unless you have to. In other words, “be stubborn about your goals, but be flexible about your methods.”
4. Set smart goals. I’m sure you have all heard this before, but setting a smart goal is the most efficient way to achieve your goals. Make sure any goals you set are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
5. Get an accountability partner (or two, or more). Checking in with someone on a regular basis will help you stay accountable for making progress on your goals. You will want to give your accountability partner a good report, which will motivate you to continually make progress.
6. Stay Focused. In the beginning, a challenge is exciting, but sometimes your skills may be lacking. Over time as your skill level increases, but the “challenge” does not, it's easy to get bored. Conversely, you may set a goal that is too challenging and with a lower skill set, you may experience anxiety. How do you combat that boredom and anxiety? If you start to feel bored, ask yourself, “Is this challenging enough?” If you start to experience anxiety, ask yourself, “Do I have enough skill?” When your skills align with the challenge, you enter what's called the “FLOW.” Focus on increasing your skills or increasing your challenge to remain in this flow. Remember, success is never easy, but it’s always worth it! If you struggle with effort, it’s possible this goal isn’t as important to you as you thought and it’s time to have a talk with your accountability partner and mentor.
7. Form Habits.
a. Set a reminder - Something more than just an alarm clock, something that keeps your “why” fresh in your mind.
b. Develop a routine - This is where you focus! Setting a routine will help you develop the habit.
c. Do not focus on the reward - This is where most people get stuck. Sometimes it’s okay to start with the end in mind, but other times you may get in such a rush to reach the end goal that you miss important steps along the way, and it won’t work out the way you envisioned. Plan for cheat days and/or days you know you won’t get things done, and realize it’s okay!
d. Relapse is part of the process - There will be days when you just don’t get it done. That is ok! Instead of feeling guilty, use your energy to focus on getting going again.