Changing your lifestyle isn’t something that happens overnight. In fact, research shows that developing new habits takes at least 21 days, enough time for many people to become disengaged, discouraged, or forgetful. However, setting effective goals can help you stay focused and increase your motivation when you begin dieting or changing any aspect of your lifestyle.
When setting goals, it is important to focus on something that is important to you. Don’t go through the motions; pick a goal that is meaningful to you personally and that will provide a vision for you to continuously work toward. Setting process goals, instead of result goals, are generally more sustainable and achievable. Additionally, using the SMART goal format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) can help you easily develop goals that will stick and be attainable. The most effective goals related to lifestyle changes meet the following criteria:
• Eat enough – It is important to understand your limits. Eat enough to satisfy you until the next mealtime draws near, but not so much that you miss your hunger signals. Allow yourself to feel a little hungry. Pick goals that allow you to eat healthy and nutritiously, as these are more sustainable.
• Enjoy your food – Find ways to enjoy your food. If you want to stay motivated, don’t cut out all your favorite foods. Focus on healthy alternatives and portion control.
• Exercise for health – Focus on small achievable goals related to activity, and work your way up to doing something almost every day. Even walking a tiny bit more than you usually do can help.
• Lifestyle changes – If you spend 90 days losing weight only to stop dieting and gain it all back, the frustration can be severe. Focus on setting goals that change your lifestyle, as these will be habits that continuously benefit your weightloss goals and are more sustainable.
Even if you set a great goal, there is still the chance that you might fall off the wagon. Here are a few simple strategies you can employ to help keep you on track and motivated:
Use smaller goals- Break your goal down so you can see achievement more regularly.
Identify setback areas- Setbacks don’t happen by accident, they often follow a pattern. Such as feeling rushed and skipping making your lunch or going to the gym. Problem solve the barriers to make your goals happen. If you are always rushed, get up 15 minutes earlier to organize your day. Imagine how good it will feel to make your goals.
Set Long-term and Short-term Goals- Using a mix of short-term and long-term goals will keep you engaged and will provide variety that will stimulate your change.
Track- Keeping track of how well you are doing is one of the key features to achieving your goals. You are more likely to stick with your goal if you can measure your success and track your progress. There are many ways to track, such as on paper, in an app, or even in the notes section of your phone.
Allow and Embrace Setbacks- It is natural to have setbacks. Instead of giving up, find ways to accept the setback and reignite your purpose. Continued effort will pay off.
Reassess and Adjust- As you are working toward your goal, life happens. Take time to assess your progress and adjust your goals to fit your life.
Find a partner- Accountability is a big thing. Find someone you can go through the journey with and watch as your success flourishes.
Use rewards- Treat yourself to reinforce your achievements. What kind of reward gets you excited? A massage? A new outfit? A weekend away? Whatever the reward, make it unique to you, your needs, and your budget.