How to Set Realistic Wellness Goals
Whether you’re preparing to head into a new year or gearing up to finish 2016 to the best of your abilities, knowing how to set realistic and achievable goals is of utmost importance. Perhaps your goals center around fitness, nutrition, mind-body wellbeing or (ideally) a combination of them all, understanding what goes into setting goals will help you get there.
For many of us, our goals tend to be quite lofty. We have the tendency to want to go from zero to sixty, instead of taking into account our current lifestyle, habits, diet, fitness level, etc.
How realistic is it to go from never working out to exercising five days per week?
How realistic is it to go from never working out to exercising five days per week? Or, if you eat out most meals, how likely is it that you will begin preparing every meal at home, right away? While these are just two common examples, the point is that we must understand the science and psychology behind setting and achieving realistic and attainable goals.
SMART guidelines were originally published by George T. Doran in 1981, and while his focus was on business management, his ideas have been known and used for years in the world of health and wellness. The beauty is, they apply to just about every realm of life in which we set goals.
Make your goals specific.
Clear and concise is key for success. Do you have a wedding to attend over the summer and you’d like to lose weight? Instead of stating your goal as “I will lose weight,” try stating “I will lose 4 pounds per month.” Map out exactly how you will lose those 4 pounds (workouts at 8am on Monday and Wednesdays), and make sure you are taking a holistic approach to weight loss. If you have trouble sleeping, for example, try a natural and gentle melatonin supplement. Sleep is essential for weight loss.
Your goals must be measurable. This means that you’ll need to set a goal where progress can be assessed, not something generic. For example, it’s difficult to track your goal to “get healthy,” but much easier to track a goal that specifies meditating 15 minutes per day, five days per week.
Setting attainable goals might just be the single most common mistake people make in their goal setting. Remember that what is attainable for someone else might not be for you, so not comparing yourself to others is first and foremost. For example, striving to lose five pounds per week is not attainable nor it is healthy. Do you suffer from a physical condition or symptom that require you to move a bit slower? Take that into account when setting your goals. Support your body by cooling chronic inflammation, and be kind to yourself.
Make your goals relevant and personalized so that you are motivated to achieve them. Perhaps you want to run a half marathon in six months, or you want to make more time each week to spend quality time with your kids. It could be something small like fitting into your favorite pair of jeans, or taking five deep breaths every time you step in the door from work so as to create a more peaceful home environment. Whatever it is, make sure it truly matters to you.
Last but certainly not least, make sure your goal is time sensitive. Set a final deadline and create mini-deadlines along the way, as this will further allow you to assess the amount of progress you’re making. If your goal is losing 20 pounds by that June wedding, set another goal to have lost 10 by April. By creating and accomplishing smaller goals along the way, you are much more likely to achieve your bigger goal.
By following these simple and important steps when goal-setting, you will go a long way in ensuring your success, and how much you’ll enjoy getting there.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.