5 simple steps to ensure success in this year's goals (which are probably the same as last year's...)
You have been setting the same goals every year and nothing has changed. You want this year to be different, to be the year that everything comes together and you finally get to where you want to be, or just close!
Read on for some tips that might just help make this year a success.
1. Know what you really really want (important)
The first thing you need to do is decide exactly what you want then commit to this goal. Next you must take steps to make sure you don't take your eye off the ball as once you neglect your goal it's all over.
Have a good think about think about why you want what you want and how having achieved this will impact your life.
Imagine having achieved your goal and keep that image in the forefront of your mind. Identify the feelings that come with this image and use this to keep your focus on getting what you want and to help maintain self-discipline when faced with temptation.
2. change small things for the long term
Look at your behaviour on a daily basis. What habits are stopping you from reaching your goal? For example, drinking too often? Having seconds after dinner? Treating yourself too often? Not exercising enough?
Sometimes a few simple changes can have more of an impact than you would expect. Try starting with just 3 changes to your routine, and make sure that these are changes that will make the most difference. Examples of this might be cutting out foods containing sugar, reducing portion sizes or increasing activity levels.
3. 100% is unrealistic - try 80/20
Following a 100% strict diet 24/7 will certainly get you results but maintaining this long-term is pretty hard going. Instead create some balance by committing to 80%, and then rather than eliminating 'forbidden' foods try limiting them to the remaining 20% of the time. The 80% will ensure you achieve your goals and the 20% will help you stick to the 80%!
Apply this rule throughout the week, so if for example you end up having a beer after work then you have used up some of your 20% so you might decide to cancel plans to go out at the weekend, or if you have an unplanned dessert then make sure over the next couple of days you are extra good, maybe even throw in an extra workout. Accept that things may not always go to plan and learn to adapt and make adjustments. This is known as balance.
4. create a routine and Plan ahead
To achieve success in reaching your goals you will need to think ahead a bit. Firstly, look at what you can control and put preparations in place. Know what you will be eating in advance and if possible schedule in exercise for the same days and times each week. Then have an action plan for times you cannot control and decide in advance what choices you will make. For example, if you have a dinner you have to attend, make a decision beforehand to substitute potato with salad, to avoid the bread basket, to abstain from alcohol and don't even think about looking at the dessert menu.
Equally, plan indulgences (your 20%) in advance and create enjoyable food 'moments'. A last minute mid-week takeaway due to poor planning or that regrettable cake at work could be substituted for more worthwhile moments, for instance allowing yourself a fresh pastry on Sunday mornings or a enjoying a weekly visit to your favourite Italian restaurant. Save these guilt-free moments for times when you will enjoy them most, and only then.
5. Master self control and if you can't then avoid temptation
You will be faced with temptation, you will feel moments of weakness. What can you do at these times? This really depends on what works for you. I am sure that there have been times in your life when you have applied self control. Think about one of these times and identify how you mastered self control. Remembering your goal, thinking about how you will feel afterwards, whatever you decide, the one thing you must realise is that each time you apply self control the stronger your ability will be to apply this going forward.
If you are worried that you may struggle with controlling yourself then make life easier by avoiding temptation. Work out when you slip up and put buffers in place. If you stick your hand in the biscuit tin too often then don't have biscuits in the house, if you can't control yourself when you go out to dinner don't go, if you can't resist when the cakes go around at work then tell your colleagues not to offer you one. Another step you can take is to create distractions from times where your mind goes to food. Alternatively if you feel you are influenced by social and emotional situations then identify these and find ways to avoid how these may trigger poor food choices.
In a nutshell
Ultimately setting goals and sticking to them can be hard work and if you really truly want to reach your goals then you need to be prepared to put in a bit of effort. However, over time habits are built and less effort is required. Understand that you are changing things for good reason and for the long-term.
Louise Appel, Personal Trainer
LLouise Appel Personal Trainer, St John's Wood & Personal Trainer Maida Vale offers customised, individual Personal Training and Pilates at Lords Cricket Ground, St John's Wood. Personal Trainer Harpenden & Personal Trainer St Albans is located at EsTR Fitness.