At the close of each year, we sit back and reflect on the many accomplishments that were made and milestones that were met throughout the year. We also lament over missed opportunities, discarded plans, and the things we failed to check off our bucket list yet again. This end of the year stroll down memory lane usually proves to be a mentally and physically exhausting emotional roller coaster ride that sends us into New Year resolution overdrive.
As a result, we begin to set lofty goals for the New Year as we envision how good we will look in our new physically fit bodies, how fabulous our new lifestyle will be when we get that promotion, or finally mustering up the courage to tender our resignation in grand style to pursue our life’s purpose. Every year we begin to fantasize about all of these things and more; only to realize that by year’s end we didn’t accomplish a third of the things on our New Year’s resolution list.
If we’re honest….and let’s be honest here…we typically abandoned the list three weeks into the New Year. We often blame our failure to complete the goals on our list on lack of time, energy, and resources. This holy trinity of excuses has become the scapegoat for why we don’t do most of what we set out to do. Well, I am going to give you the real skinny on why most of us fail to achieve most of our goals, especially those on our New Year’s resolution list. Most of us fail to achieve our goals due to the lack of S.M.A.R.T planning. This simply means that we don’t set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time focused.
Reason One: We fail because we don’t create specific, measureable goals that force accountability. (Lack of accountability equals failure)
Most of our resolutions sound something like this: “I’m going to lose fifty pounds next year or I’m going to get down three pants sizes.” These resolutions sound great to us and to everyone that we share them with. They also make us feel good when we think about them. Resolutions like these are full of intent but lack clarity and focus in that they fail to map out a plan, allow progress to be measured, or build in accountability.
We often forget to use S.M.A.R.T planning when creating our New Year’s resolutions and vision boards as we are usually too busy daydreaming about the outcome. In order to accomplish your goals, you first have to be ready to commit to changing the status quo and then realize that you have the right to want more and deserve better for yourself.
Next, you must be honest with yourself and determine what will be the best method for you to achieve your goal. A plan that worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you. People, circumstances, resources, and levels of commitment are different. You have to understand all of your variables and plan accordingly. In order for you to lose fifty pounds, you made need a combination of diet and exercise, as opposed to your best friend who accomplished the same goal with just a diet change.
Once you decide which method works best for you, then you have to map out a plan. I have taken the liberty of detailing what a clearly stated goal mapped out with S.M.A.R.T planning looks like. I plan to lose 50 pounds in 5 months. That means I have to lose 10 pounds a month which averages out to 2.5 pounds a week. I plan to achieve my goal with a combination of exercise and diet that will ultimately result in a permanent lifestyle change for me. I will alternate cardio, weight training, and yoga every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning for 45 minutes.
For the first 30 days, I will eat a cup of yogurt and a piece of fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and a meat with two servings of vegetables for dinner. My daily snack choices will be cheese, nuts, or protein bars. I will allow myself to have a cheat meal every Saturday afternoon. The cheat meal still has to fall within a pre-determined amount of calories, therefore I must plan ahead and select wisely.
I will monitor my diet choices and chart my weight loss progression weekly within the first 30 days and adjust as needed for the remainder of my plan. Saturday will also be my day to reward myself with a massage, movie, or pedicure for all of my hard work. I will remain focused. I will not condemn myself if I have a bad day, instead I will confess my failure, readjust my plan to prevent a reoccurrence of counterproductive behavior, forgive myself, and begin working again. I will identify someone that I trust to support me and confide in as I work to accomplish my goal. I will celebrate the achievement of my goal by (fill in the blank). This plan is specific, measurable, and provides fact in data that will allow you to hold yourself accountable. It even includes milestones that will allow you to celebrate your progress. This plan if followed will ensure the successful achievement of the stated goal.
See reason two and three on the next page