As we speedily enter the second month of the year, now could be a good time to reflect on how the year has progressed and whether you have stuck to your new years resolutions so far.
I’m not a huge fan of the term “resolution” when describing annual goals. The definition of a resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” Resolutions can work well if you have an “all or nothing” mentality and are fully committed to changing.
However, habit change is more complex than whether you do something or you don’t, and this approach can sometimes lead to feelings of failure if you are not sticking to your “do” or “don’t”.
In years gone by, I used to dread January, not only because of the short days and cold weather, but I always felt depressed because I had not transformed into this new improved me that I promised myself I would become as the new year arrived.
If you have made a plan and are working towards your goals and sticking to your resolutions, keep it going! If you set some time aside at the end of each month and reflect on what is going well and how you can improve next month, this can help you stay focused and build momentum throughout the year.
Perhaps you haven’t made a plan yet or you are feeling that you are failing to stick to your resolutions. Never fear, I have a simple 5 step plan that can help you achieve your targets this year and beyond. I have worked with fitness clients for more than 19 years and have combined with my personal experience and extensive reading of personal development books to develop this process.
The 5 Steps
- Step 1: Go General and Daydream
- Step 2: Get Specific and Segment
- Step 3: Keep Chipping Away
- Step 4: Set Quarterly Goals and have Monthly Reviews
- Step 5: Set 2 Daily Commitments and 2 Rules to stay on track
This 5 step plan is not for everyone. It is a simple process yet it takes planning, commitment and regular evaluation if you want to achieve your goals. If you are tired of your bad habits, need a change and are willing to follow the 5 steps, you will be the healthier, happier version of you by the end of the year.
This is a comprehensive plan to get you to where you want to be in 2020 so you may want to take notes or refer back to this page as you complete each of the steps if time is in short supply.
Step 1: Go General and Daydream
It can take a while to decide what you would like to achieve by the end of the year. There is no need to put pressure on yourself to instantaneously make a complete transformation, think of the longer term outcomes and think about what it is you actually want to achieve.
With so many outside influences, we can sometimes find ourselves in pursuit of a goal that is someone else’s. The goal has to be relevant to you and will be of benefit to your life.
Take a few days to ponder over what your values are and form a general idea of how you would like your life to be like. Think of the areas of your life that you would like to improve and create a vision of what you would like to achieve by the end of the year.
Example 1 -Jane:
Jane develops a vision of her body shape transformed, fitting into smaller clothes and feeling confident being undressed and looking in the mirror.
Example 2 – James:
James has a vision of conquering a number of fitness challenges throughout the year.
Think big and limitless, like a child would. Daydream about what your new life looks like and how you look and feel at the end of 2020. Think about the satisfaction of achieving your goals. Imagine hearing the complements from others. Have fun with it and aim to connect positive feelings with these general outcomes as the stronger the emotional connection to your goal the more likely you are to succeed.
Step 2: Get specific and Segment
Now you have your vision in place and feel passionate and excited about achieving it, your next task is to set some goals. There are two types of annual goals to formulate. Outcome Goals which can be measured and Process Goals which help to formulate new habits so you can achieve your outcome goals.
Example 1 – Jane:
Jane’s Outcome Goal is to drop two dress sizes and reduce her weight by 10Kg by December. To segment this goal into smaller chunks, the target could be to lose 1kg per month and be one dress size smaller by June.
James’ Outcome Goal is to complete the Spartan Race in September. To segment this goal he is going to aim to complete a 5K in March and April and a 10K in May and June.
Many people lose sight of their goals as they feel that they aren’t making progress quick enough. Keep the longer term outcome in mind and remind yourself that all progress is positive no matter how small. There maybe plateaus sometimes, but the longer term outcome is what is important so keep going. This is a marathon, not a sprint!
Step 3: Keep chipping away
Set some goals that you can keep chipping away at through the year. These are Process Goals that can keep you staying on track and working towards that vision of how you see yourself at the end of 2020. Some examples could be:
- Achieve a higher step count than you did in 2019. You can use your phone or a fit bit to keep track.
- Go for at least 100 runs at least 5K (2x a week)
- 100 alcohol free days throughout the year
- Eat 5 serving of veg and fruit on at least 350 days of the year
These are just a few examples. My personal target is to meditate for a least 10 minutes a day on as many days as possible. I have missed three days so far and will aim to keep this as small a number of missed days as possible. Get creative and have fun with it – choose targets you can continuously work towards and easily measure.
Every three months set some outcome goals that you would like to achieve. At the start of every quarter, reflect on how things have gone and set some process goals to keep you focused. You may find that your goals change as you grow as a person and a regular monthly check-in at the start of the month can allow you to adjust accordingly.
Step 5: 2 Daily Commitments, 2 Rules to stay on track
In your monthly plan, make two healthy living commitments that you will aim to do every day and two weekly rules to keep you on track. Each week, record how many days out of seven you stuck to your daily commitments.
Example 1 – Jane:
Two daily commitments: walk 10,000 steps a day, eat at least 5 veg and fruit servings
Two Rules to stay on track: Alcohol only on Saturdays or at occasions, no sweet treats at the office
Example 2 – James:
Two daily commitments: Eat a protein rich breakfast, cycle to and from work everyday.
Two Rules to stay on track: At least three training sessions every week, no snacking after 7pm.
By keeping track of how many days you are sticking to your targets you can monitor your progress. You may find that some weeks it is easy to stick to your commitments, other weeks it may be more of a challenge to achieve your targets, at these times, don’t give up hope. Just keep chipping away with the vision of how you would like to be at the end of the year.
Step one is to think general and excitedly daydream about what you would like to achieve by the end of the year. Step two is linking this vision into an achievable target, and segmenting the steps you need to get there. Setting an annual goal that you can keep chipping away at is step three and setting quarterly outcome goals and monthly process goals is step four. Step five is including 2 daily commitments and 2 rules to stay on track and monitoring how often you stick to your plan.
If you are serious about following the steps it maybe worth investing a note book to keep track of everything as there is power in writing things down. Or perhaps you could use the notes facility on your phone if this is easier for you. Whichever is most convenient.
Habit change takes time, so be patient and keep striving to do better next time. It may seem like there is a lot of commitment involved in these five steps, but after spending a few days daydreaming about how great your life could be by the end of 2020, perhaps this will make it easier to follow the rest of the steps. Enjoy the process and have fun striving for excellence.
Maybe you could commit to doing step one this week, it’s the most fun and exciting of all of the steps so why not give it a go!