G is for “Goal-setting”
Hopefully, you’ve been fully exploring your topic for change this past week. If you need some more time, take it. Better to get it right and come back to this article when you’re ready. But if you’re now chomping at the bit, you’re ready for “goal-setting“.
Well, you need a S.M.A.R.T. goal. And it might be simple.
Specific & Measurable
If your topic is pure weight loss you just need to set a goal weight (use myfitnesspal) and it is instantly specific (a number) and measurable (on scales).
Achievable & Relevant
Add in achievable and relevant – make sure it’s in the normal BMI range not lower! Or even consider a percentage drop like 10% if you are very overweight now. You can always set a new goal once you get there! Make sure you actually want to lose weight (that might sound like a redundant question, but do a truth check that losing weight is your personal goal – not someone else’s for you).
Finally make it timely. It’s easy with weight loss: 1-2 lbs a week is safe so if you have 3 stones to lose you could set yourself a target of 6-9 months to do it in.
Mini-goals & Flexibility
You might even make mini-goals along the way, as 6-9 months is a long time. You also need to build in a bit of flexibility. If you’ve got a wedding, Christmas, holiday, operation coming up these might throw you a bit, so be kind to yourself with your target time and don’t set yourself up to fail. Go back and check achievable again – can you sustain a plan for 9 months? If you’ve had a baby you’ll know how torturous the endgame is! Maybe you’re better suited to lots of mini-goals – e.g. I’ll lose 4lbs in the next 6 weeks and then another mini-goal when you’re there of 6lbs in the subsequent 6 weeks, and so on.
It might be a lot more complex than that, but always assess it against S.M.A.R.T. and reassess it against S.M.A.R.T. and even again with someone else’s critical eye before you get going. The important bit is “achievable” because success, breeds confidence, breeds success. If you’re very stuck try asking yourself how important is it to me on a 1-10 scale? If it’s not an 8 or more, what could make it more important? (And hence achievable).
How it worked for me
My topic was “achieve a healthy BMI” and when I explored my topic more I added in – “without losing bone or muscle mass”. This is because my grandmother had terrible osteoporosis and shrunk a good 6 inches. Hobbits can’t afford height loss! So my goal was a bit more complex: the healthy BMI was 25 (top of the range). Whilst there is evidence that your risk of death is lowest between BMI 22.5 – 24.9 that felt unrealistic and unachievable from my couch of sloth. A BMI of 25 translates to 50kg for me – super-specific nice round number to aim for. I picked kilogrammes as it got me away from what I instinctively knew about weight and that relieved a lot of pressure – again making my specific, measurable goal more achievable. The “not losing bone or muscle mass” made it more relevant to me personally and meant I had to do strength training and not just diet, and neatly, that made it more achievable! You might be happy, in a kind of schadenfreude kind of way, to know I messed up though – I forgot timely. I flailed around for 3 months not losing any weight before I added in timely – which changed everything!
pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.
What do you mean by that?
Finally, a word for those with complex goals! If you try out “S.M.A.R.T.” on your goal and you’re struggling, keep asking yourself “What do I mean by that?” until you can pin down something tangible. For example, you might want to “be healthier”. When you try to measure it – what are you measuring? So asking yourself “what do I mean by healthier?” might lead you to “eat more fruit and vegetables” and then ask again – because you can’t measure “more” – “what do I mean by that?” which might lead you to “ensure I get my 5-a-day” which is specific and measurable so you can then progress.
“Phone a friend”
And if you’re still getting stuck, just ask someone for help! See you here next week to do a “reality check” on your goal.