Setting goals is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. Whether it’s because we can’t visualize what we want to achieve or we can’t stay motivated long enough to reach it, failure to realize the changes we want to make in our lives can be discouraging. Thankfully, goal setting is not as mysterious or difficult as it’s often made out to be. With a strategic plan and some willpower, anyone can achieve their ideal weight and goals. Keep reading for some tried-and-true tips on how to make a change for the better.
1) Have Realistic Expectations
Most of the time when people don’t achieve their goals it’s not because they lack the talent to do so. Rather, it’s because they have taken on too much too quickly. So, it’s important when setting goals in your own life that you take a realistic look at what you have the time and energy to commit to. For example, you can’t expect to make the switch to a Paleo lifestyle overnight—there’s simply too much to commit to in such a short amount of time. However, why not take on something a little less ambitious?
If you’re not already on the Paleo diet lifestyle, then try to make a commitment to eat Paleo-friendly foods only once this week and see how that goes. When you have that mastered, begin introducing more “mini” goals into your routine—you won’t believe how quickly those add up. Before you know it, those small modifications to your life will have completely and positively transformed how you live.
2) Be Specific
Vague, undefined goals are your enemies — because they’re so open to interpretation, how can you know when you’ve hit or missed the mark? This ambiguity can lead to the frustration of never feeling accomplished, which is probably the number one reason why people give up on their goals. Instead, take some time to really think about what you want to achieve. Be clear enough that anyone reading your goals knows right away what you’ve set out to do. For example, don’t just say you want to “be Paleo.” Instead, narrow it down even further—which specific foods are you going to introduce into your diet, and which foods are you going to eliminate? You’ll find that this type of goal setting is much more effective and encouraging than making broad statements without guidelines.
3) Call to Action
Finding a way to get motivated about your goals can be very helpful in sticking with them, and one great option for doing this is by choosing a specific day to begin. By starting at a date, you increase the anticipation and motivation you already have. This is a great way to build momentum for the early stages of your lifestyle change when you’re most likely to get discouraged. If you’re looking to incorporate a Paleo diet into your life, why not start now? Build on your momentum by doing research as you go, I believe if you really want something then the best time to start is that very moment.
4) Set a Deadline
Giving yourself a time frame for when your goals must be accomplished is just as important as setting a start date for them. When you know you’re working on a deadline, you’re more prone to be motivated and less likely to procrastinate. Again, set a realistic deadline. Don’t aim to lose 30 pounds in 15 days, instead try to lose 10 pounds in 30 days. Keeping the deadline in your mind will subconsciously keep you on track too.
5) Set Measurable Goals
The best part of setting goals is the awesome feeling you get after you’ve achieved them! However, if your goals are phrased in such a way that they can’t be measured, then how will you ever know when you’ve been successful? This doesn’t mean that everyone has to have the same standard of measurement, but creating personal benchmarks and measuring them is really the only way to know where you are on your journey. When talking about where you want to be in terms of a Paleo diet, avoid vague statements like, “I will eat Paleo this week.” Instead, trade them in for more direct, measurable goals like, “I will refrain from eating processed foods this week.” Knowing whether you’ve hit or missed the mark is important for continuing to shape and create new goals. Keeping your goals measurable is a great way to make the evaluation process objective and easy to understand.
6) Have a Support System
There will be some days on your journey when you simply don’t feel motivated. Most of the time, this lack of motivation will be an anomalous exception, but there’s always the risk that you could fall into a full-blow rut. That’s why it’s important to have a social support system in place when making a change for the better. Your friends and family will be your biggest asset for emotional comfort, talk to them and let them know how you feel. Just talking about is sometimes enough to get you back on track.
The internet is a great place to get support too, you can discuss your issues comfortably from your home without being judged on friendly forums and get motivated again by priming your mind. There are countless message boards and forums out there filled with people working on their journey to a Paleo lifestyle—people who have experienced firsthand all the struggles you’re dealing with. They can keep you strong, and likewise, you can help support them as well.
7) Raise the Stakes
If you’ve already defined goals that are clearly measurable, one great way to really pump up your motivation is by rewarding yourself when you reach those milestones. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should be something that’s appealing to you. Even if you don’t reach your milestones like you planned, the sting of not getting that reward can help propel you to do better in the future. Take some time to think of creative, inexpensive goodies and you’re sure to increase your drive to succeed. For example, I like to get a massage if I reached some milestone of a goal; like dropping 5 pounds or finishing a project ahead or on time.
If this is all too much for you, the just focus on 1 thing and once you’ve mastered that aspect, move on to the next. One step at a time.