So, 2016 is upon us! For me that means setting myself some long term goals for the year ahead and, in particular, some short term goals for the first month.
While I don't subscribe to the "new year, new me" crap (I’ll explain) that seems to be filling our social media feeds this year, I do think it's important to re-evaluate and set yourself realistic, obtainable and ultimately progressive goals.
Why do I disagree with the term “new year, new me”?...
The ever increasingly popular mantra at the turn of a new year "new year, new me", for me, implies that you need total re-invention. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all too aware that there are some poor misguided souls out there who could do with a complete personality and lifestyle overhaul, but for the majority of us, this simply isn't true; and using this phrase to tell everyone about your new year’s resolutions could be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to make what only need to be minor adjustments to make the next year more successful than the last.
Here’s 5 things I like to keep in mind when setting myself goals and targets, and a few things that help me stick to them...
1 Keep your goals clearly defined and concise
Most of you reading this will have heard me talk about the SMART principles of goal setting whilst waffling on about something fitness related, well this firmly applies here. Where possible make sure your goals are as many of these as possible:
Specific – Make sure you know exactly what it is you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it.
Measurable – Make sure you can keep track of how you are progressing towards these goals, this way you’ll be able to see if progress has halted and do something about it before the train derails!
Achievable – Don’t go too big, or for that matter, too small. Nothing will throw you back into your old ways like setting yourself a goal that you were never going to be able to reach. i.e...Don’t tell yourself you are going to swim once a week, when you live 100 miles from the nearest swimming pool, that’s just dumb. Likewise, don’t make your goal to go to the gym once in January, because, well, you’ll have to wait until December to set yourself a new goal, right?!
Relevant – keep your goals relevant to what you want to achieve in the long term. Are you looking to be able to run a marathon by the end of the year? Then don’t tell your vest bro’s that you’ll be able to bench press 150kg by mid april.
Time-bound – Give yourself a timeframe to stick to...and bloody well stick to it. Catching up on all 400 episodes of Eastenders from last week can wait...IT CAN WAIT DAMN IT!
2 Make yourself accountable
The more people that know about what you are planning to achieve, the better. It’s a ballsy move to publicly announce that you are striving for something you may fail at, but what the people around you know about, the people around you can help with, and this will be crucial to your success in the long run.
3 Patience is a virtue
Making changes that will last, takes time and effort. This is the exact reason that your fad diets and your quick fixes DO NOT WORK. Yes, you might shed a few unwanted pounds very quickly with little effort required on your part, but these changes are not sustainable. If your goal is to drop your body fat by 7% this year, invest in a gym membership and invest your time into learning how to build muscle mass. This way, when you eventually start to drop your body fat, and you will, it will stay lower because your body will be able to use the calories from your “normal” diet. Meaning you won’t have to spend 8 weeks consuming 100 calories per day! Take your time and trust in the process. You will benefit in the long run!
4 Stop saying “Ah F#*k it!”
As the old saying goes, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count; it’s how many times you get back up.”
Let’s be honest...it’s pretty likely that, at some point, you will miss a session at the gym. The intention was there but something “just came up”. We’ve all been guilty of it and sometimes there are undoubtedly circumstances stopping you from making this intended appointment that genuinely couldn’t be avoided.
However, I hear all too often “well that’s it isn’t it...I was meant to go to the gym every day this month and now I’ve gone missed one...so that’s that resolution out the window!”. Ok...I hear ya...the literal part of your goal has gone, you’re right. But now take a deep breath, stop being a little bitch, and get your ass to the gym because that was yesterday, today you have no excuses! It’s far better to complete 99% of what you set out to achieve than to stop at the 10% you have already done!
Creating habit is all done through consistency so if you stop doing something every time you get knocked slightly off track, you’ll never see anything through!
5 Add to your current schedule
We all have habits already, your typical daily schedule is one of them. Use this to your advantage when trying to stick to your new year resolutions.
Instead of trying to completely change your daily routine, just add to it! Tell yourself that your day is now incomplete until you have hit the gym on your way home from work.
9 times out of 10 the reason you didn’t stick to your new goal is because you failed to add it to your schedule. Yes we’re all busy and yes it’s hard to find time, but you still managed to watch Eastenders again tonight, didn’t you?!
OK, so these aren’t things that haven’t been said before and they won’t revolutionise the setting of new Year goals, but they might just give you a bit of a helping hand in making sure you set a sensible target AND stick to it!!
In my next post I’ll be taking my own advice from “step 2” and sharing with you my goals for the upcoming months.
Wishing you all a succesful 2016 and remember kids, stay away from Eastenders...