Meet Mindy.?She’s a successful marketing executive who’s been struggling with her weight for years. She’s been busy raising a family and building a career, and she’s now ready to do something about her weight gain. She also has a class reunion in two months and really wants to lose 20 pounds by then.
She starts out great! The first week, she gets up every morning at 6 a.m. and walks two miles before work. She loads up her refrigerator with tons of fruits and vegetables and clears her pantry of all unhealthy snacks. The first week she loses 4 pounds!? The second week, she sleeps in a few days because she had some late night meetings and since she was rushed in the morning, she didn’t pack a lunch and grabbed fast food. She lost zero pounds.
The third week, she walks only one morning and bakes a batch of chocolate chip cookies for her kids. She eats half the batch herself and has to make more. She is discouraged, ashamed, and decides losing weight is just too hard, so she quits and goes back to her old ways.
What went wrong with Mindy’s plan?
Mindy’s plan is very typical. I see this often in my coaching. In the beginning, there is excitement and enthusiasm about the goal, so many people, like Mindy, go out of the gate like a racehorse. Results can be attained quickly, but without a long-term, realistic plan, they are hard to maintain or are even lost, like Mindy’s.
Mindy tried to do it all at once ? exercise, eat healthy, and lose weight. She got overwhelmed, and her fear of success (or failure) prevented her from moving forward.
One of the secrets of setting and achieving a goal is CREATING A DAILY HABIT.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey defines a habit as ?the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).?
Deciding on your goal is just the first step. To successfully achieve your goal, there are additional steps you need to take:
1. Get crystal clear with the WHY.
Ask yourself 2 important questions: How important is this goal for me? WHY is this important?
If something is important to you, you will make the time for it. If it’s not, you’ll likely find an excuse.
In helping my clients achieve their goals, I take them through a values exercise first. I help them discover principles they want to live by. In other words, they prioritize what’s important for them. If you want to lose weight but being ?healthy? is not one of your top values, what are the chances that you’ll be successful?
Connecting your goals with your values is essential. ?Get clear with the WHY.
2. Change ?I have to / need to / should? to ?I want to.?
If you set out to exercise because your doctor told you to or your partner is in your face about your weight gain, your starting point is a negative one. The energy and effort you put into reaching your goals may feel resentful if you’re doing it for someone else.
When you decide that YOU want to lose weight and get healthy, imagine how you’ll feel when you begin to see results. What are the benefits? What’s different in your life?? What other areas of your life are positively affected?
Your desire must come from within. Create an empowering statement to remind you of why you WANT to do it and connect with this statement daily to retrain your brain
Use positive statements like:
The more I exercise, the healthier I feel.
Moving my body is freeing.
Healthy food gives me more energy.
3.?Simplify the WHAT.
Make a realistic plan and start small. Instead of aiming for a two-mile walk every morning at 6 a.m., try a 10-minute walk at a time that’s enjoyable for you.? After you consistently succeed at the smaller interval, increase your time.
If eating healthy is part of the goal, start by making healthy meals three nights a week. Try packing a lunch four days a week and enjoy a restaurant meal just once.
If your weight-loss goal is 20 lbs., aim for losing 1 lb. a week and manage that time frame. It’s the most realistic and clear way to achieve long-term results.? Cut calories a bit at a time (say 100 calories a day.)? You may find you can give up that latte or afternoon cookie and you won’t miss it.
Keep it simple and realistic.
4. Make it fun!
Once you’re clear about your WHY, you’ve defined your WHAT, and you understand your desire to change comes from within, ask yourself what’s the most enjoyable way to do it. If you’re miserable every time you take the action, stop suffering or change the action. If you’re not a morning person, exercise in the evening, or just before dinner.? What’s important is that it works for YOU.
Hate walking? How about swimming? Or biking?? Or dance classes? Think outside the box.
Work together with your partner or family at adding healthier foods into your menu. Be adventurous with your menu! The Internet is loaded with websites for healthy eating and delicious, easy-to-make recipes.? Turn on some lively music while you cook.? Enjoy the process.
5. Identify your personal roadblocks.
Let’s face it: we’re human, and there are going to be setbacks and challenges. The key is to recognize what triggers you to fall back into old habits.
If childcare is your issue and you cannot make it to your scheduled dance class, get a sitter. If your calendar is too full, take something off your plate. Schedule exercise in your calendar and commit to it.
If your roadblocks are more internal, identify what thoughts and past behaviors limit you, and change the way you think. Take an action that will help you break through your block. If you struggle with identifying what your triggers are, hire a professional, an objective person to help you.
Addressing what pushes your buttons?may not be the most?pleasant experience,?but doing so will create a significant shift in your behaviors and actions. And, it’s the only way to get from where you are to where you want to be.
6. Reward yourself for catching a bad behavior.
It is totally up to you to choose your reaction when you face a setback or block in the road.? Learn to say ?when this happens? and not ?if this happens,? because setbacks will happen. ?Don’t beat yourself up.? Pat yourself on the back for recognizing it and making a correction.? Be your own cheerleader.
Successful goal setting requires planning, patience, and perseverance. Staying on the wagon requires desire, will, and self-care. You CAN achieve your goals, but you must carefully plan and stay realistic, until your new actions become your new habits.