I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They are just ideas and promises. Just dreams. Only about 8% of people who start the year with resolutions actually follow through and keep them.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: a promise to do something differently in the new year – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
What I am a fan of is goals and goal setting. I consider myself a goal-oriented person. If I set out to do something and am truly passionate about it, I will achieve it.
Take, for example, the Pink Ribbon Runner blog. I had no idea about how to set up a website and blog. But, I had a dream. I wanted to help empower my fellow cancer survivors and others to lead healthier lives.
I did it. And I believe you can too.
Turning my life around after my cancer treatments, I lost 90 pounds, started eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and started running and exercising. I ran my first full marathon in October 2019. It is possible. I wanted to share what I learned, the whys and hows of living a healthier life. That was my dream.
You can read more of my story here.
But without a goal and a plan, setting up this website was just that…. a dream. It was just a promise I made to myself to do something differently. For it to happen, I needed to set a direction and take action. But how?
GOAL : the end toward which effort is directed – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
The definition of goal involves action. It involves effort. And it involves direction. Those are very important distinctions. A resolution is just a promise. A goal acts on that promise and can make it happen.
So, lets stop talking about resolutions and start talking about goals. Goals don’t have to happen on New Years. They can happen anytime of the year. You just need an idea that you are passionate about and set the wheels in motion to make it happen.
So, lets talk about how to make your goals happen.
What makes me qualified to help you?
I have achieved many personal, career, and health goals. I have helped multiple businesses and organizations determine, refine and plan their goals, including participating in strategic planning sessions. For one of my previous jobs, I built an entire program from the ground up and helped the organization achieve full accreditation. Something they hadn’t been able to achieve before.
And, I learned how to build this website, adding web developer to my list of skills. Now I can share my passion, vision and dream about living a healthier life with you.
So, let me help you turn your passion into reality.
As you read the next several sections of this article, keep one goal you are passionate about in mind.
Let’s do this!
Make Your Goal SMART
You have probably heard the acronym SMART when reading about goal setting. The idea of SMART goals first originated in 1981. It isn’t new. The concept was the brainchild of corporate planning executive, George T. Doran. SMART is a way to think about your goals to make them more achievable. It breaks the goal down into components that help you set up a plan to achieve them.
S = Specific
What do you want to do? Be detailed and clear. What is the purpose of the goal? Visualize what you want to achieve. What does that look like, exactly? Include your WHY.
For example: Instead of saying “I want to eat better”, define what eating better looks like. Perhaps it looks like this; “I want to eat a healthy plant-based diet to lower my cholesterol to less than 200 mg/dL”
M = Measurable
How will you know when you have reached your goal? How will you track your progress? Set clear parameters with precise numbers. Avoid saying words like “better”, “more”, “improve” or “reduce”.
For example: Instead of saying “I want to lose weight this year”, say “I want to lose 50 pounds by June 1”.
A = Achievable
Is it within your power to do this? Do you have a way to make your goal happen? Factor in your circumstances. Do you have the knowledge or tools to do this? If not, what do you need to make it happen?
Break larger goals into smaller goals. It shouldn’t be too hard, yet your goals shouldn’t be too easy either.
For example: To set up the Pink Ribbon Runner blog (a larger goal), I first needed to learn how to set up a website (a smaller, related goal). So, my bigger goal was broken down into several smaller more achievable goals that included “learn web development”. Unless I learned this, setting up Pink Ribbon Runner was not going to happen.
R = Realistic
Being realistic sounds very similar to being achievable. But there is a slight difference. A goal may be achievable, but should you do it? It needs to also be reasonable. Is your goal practical? Can you honestly sustain the effort needed to achieve it? Are there factors beyond your control? Is it worth doing?
For example: Having a financial goal of winning the lottery isn’t realistic. Winning a lottery has too many factors beyond your control. It is not reasonable to expect to achieve it.
T = Timely
When do you want to do this? You need clear timelines. Set priorities. Think about your goal as short-term, long-term or lifetime. How long will it take you to get to where you want to be? Set an end date for that goal and set dates to check in with yourself to measure your progress.
For example: That weight loss goal of losing 50 pounds by June 1st can be broken down into way-points of smaller short-term weight loss goals of losing 10 pounds per month.
How to make your goals happen
Thinking about SMART goals is a great way to define and refine our goals. But what SMART doesn’t tell us, exactly, is how to make our goals happen. The H = How is missing from SMART… That would have been SHMART to include.
When we talked about setting realistic goals, we did need to think a little about the how. You needed to think about how you could make it happen to know if it was realistic or not. But SMART doesn’t set us on the path to achieve those goals. It only make us think about the goal in a way that makes them more achievable.
Remember the definition of goal? It had 3 components to it; direction, action and effort. In order to get to the end of the desired outcome, you need all 3 components. So, lets talk about those.
This is your plan. Now that we have refined and thought more in-depth about our goal, it is time to plan it all out to make it happen. What steps are needed? Write it down.
- Step 1
- Step 2
- Step 3
For example, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, your plan might look something like this…
- Step 1: calculate daily calorie limits
- Step 2: write weekly meal plans with calorie limits in mind
- Step 3: write a grocery list of low calorie and healthy foods
- Step 4: join a gym
- Step 5: write a weekly exercise plan to build strength and cardio
- Step 6: schedule check-in dates to monitor progress
Now take action on the direction you set for yourself. Take those steps in your plan and do them. Your goal, your dream, won’t happen without action.
Put an action word, a verb, at the beginning of each of those steps. You see in the example above that I used “calculate”, “write”, “join” and “schedule”. Those words give you something to do. They give you the action you need to take to make it all happen.
Now, to act on your plan takes effort. Remember the definition of goal? It is the end toward which effort is directed. The word “effort” is built right into the definition. Every single goal, no matter how big or small, requires effort to achieve it. The amount of effort required will likely determine how successful you are at making your dreams happen.
Wait! We aren’t done yet.
We need to talk about something very important now.
The bigger the goal, the bigger the effort. Simple concept, right? Well, it isn’t all that simple when we try to put our plan into action. It isn’t just about effort. It is about your willingness to do the effort required to achieve it.
How bad do you want it?
Remember we talked about passion at the beginning of this post? I told you to pick one goal that you were passionate about. There is a reason I chose that word.
There are many definitions of passion, but the one I like is that it is an intense and driving emotion; “driving” being the key word. You need to have enough drive to achieve your goal. The bigger the goal, the more drive you will need, so more passion. So, how badly do you want to achieve this goal. Are you willing to do what it takes?
PASSION: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
What is your WHY?
If you don’t have passion for your goal, is it worth doing? You need to think about the WHY. Your WHY is the reason you will Work Hard for You. Why do you want to achieve this goal? Dig deep (or DEAP, as the case may be). If your goal is big, you will need a big WHY.
For example: Why do you want to lose weight? For me, it was to do what was within my power to prevent cancer recurrence. I wanted to be healthy for my family. I didn’t like being a burden to them when I was sick. It is important for me to be here for my children’s graduations, for their weddings and what ever big events they choose to experience. I also want to run, hike and travel with my husband. I want us to retire and grow old together. This is my WHY. This is what gave me my passion, my driving force, to put in the effort required to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
We need to always remember our WHY!
Write it down.
Sadly, only 3% of people actually write out their goals and aspirations. Perhaps this is the reason for such high failure rates for New Year’s resolutions?
I have told you several times now to write it down. Write down your SMART goals. Write down the steps of your plan, including those action words. And, most importantly, write down your WHY.
We need to write it all down and read it again and again and again to keep it in the front of our minds. When our days are busy or when the effort required gets hard, we can falter on achieving our goals. Most goals have some level of discomfort to achieve them. If they didn’t, they are likely not worth doing or are just menial tasks and not dreams. I am talking about making your dreams happen here… not just doing the laundry.
Mind you… doing the laundry makes me uncomfortable. So, perhaps that is a worthwhile goal after all. I digress…
So, revisit your goals and your WHY often
Writing down our goals and the progress towards achieving them has been shown to have an impact on success. A study done by Dr. Matthews at the Dominican University showed that more than 70 % of participants were successful with their goals if they wrote them down and sent weekly updates to friends.
So, we have now gone from 8% to 70% success simply by writing things down. So get out that pen and notebook, or download that tracking app and start planning and logging. Write it all down.
So, here is a little exercise for you to try. Write 2 copies your goal and plan.
Keep one copy for yourself. Post it on your fridge or some other visible place. Don’t just tuck it into a drawer somewhere. These are your dreams, remember?
Give the second copy to a trusted friend to give back to you at a set time point. Schedule the date into both of your calendars.
Alternately, you could put the second copy in an envelope and mail it to yourself. One of the speakers on goal setting at a local running clinic does this for the participants. It is a fantastic way to remind yourself of your goals. Who doesn’t love to receive mail that isn’t a bill?
To help get you started, I created a goal setting template. Click here or the image below to subscribe for free access to the Pink Ribbon Runner Template Library, where you can download the Goal Worksheets.
I also have a more in-depth 3-day goal setting course coming soon. Sign up for Pink Ribbon Runner emails to be notified when the course goes live. In this course, I walk you through step-by-step from brainstorming to writing out your plan for success. I hope you consider signing up for it. It is a unique course, encompassing everything I know about setting goals, polished with my own experiences.
I want you to be successful. I want you to achieve your dreams.
If you are looking to lose weight as one of your goals, Pink Ribbon Runner has a section in the blog on this. Feel free to browse our articles. We have many more articles on eating well and being active too.