They say that a goal without a plan is just a dream. So, the trick to making your dreams come true is to have an effective plan to achieve your goals. Especially when it comes to health goals: plan-making and goal-setting are how it gets done.
Successful Goal Setting: Be Specific
It's not enough to say that you want to be healthier. Decide what you want, and make that your goal. Do you want to run a marathon? Do you want to fit in your high school jeans? Do you want to bench press 200 pounds? A specific goal directs your plan, and only then will you be able to identify when your goal has been achieved.
After you've set your goal, make sure to write it down. Just writing your goal down increases the likelihood that you will achieve it, according to a study conducted by researchers at Dominican University.
Focus on the Process
Process goals are what drive changes in behavior that will make your goal last a lifetime. They will help you develop habits that will become part of your daily life. The Mayo Clinic offers several examples of process goals, such as eating "five servings of fruit and veggies per day" or walking 30 minutes every morning before work. Process goals help you achieve your overall goal of weight loss or when establishing a workout routine.
What's in the way of you achieving your goal? How can you adjust your goal or plan to overcome that obstacle? Is the gym too far away from your place of work? Start a home workout routine instead. Do you need help to create a healthy meal plan? See if a nutritionist could help. Your obstacles are only known to you, as each person's circumstances are highly individualized, so really think about what's keeping you from achieving your goal, and develop a plan to overcome them.
The best-kept secret for successful goal setting is an accountability buddy or support group. A buddy or a group with shared goals can be invaluable in making your dreams a reality. In that same Dominican University study, the most successful individuals not only wrote down their goals, but they shared those goals with a friend and had weekly accountability meetings with that friend. It seems knowing that you have someone that you are relying on to give you feedback, to encourage you to do better if you failed, or to celebrate with you when you succeed, can help people achieve their goals.
Failure Is Part of the Process
It's important to remember that change is usually not immediate, and it's usually not permanent. Realistically, if you're going to make a change in your behavior, there will be times when you'll make a mistake and slip back into your old ways. Maybe you'll skip a workout, or have a big meal with your family. The key is not to become discouraged and to get back on track as soon as possible. Don't give up on your goals just because you made one mistake. In fact, mistakes or setbacks can be a valuable learning opportunity and can help you know how to avoid them in the future.
Successful goal setting is key to achieving what you want in life. Don't wait, start living your best life today.