Achieving your goals - intention

General Health

Lifestyle coach Effie Parnell-Hopkinson kicks off our 'achieving your goals' series with the first instalment focusing on intention and how to set achievable goals.

03/01/2019


Effie Parnell-Hopkinson
MSc BDA & SENr Registered Nutritionist

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The New Year sparks millions of people to start their resolutions and, unsurprisingly, the most common resolutions are related to improving physical health, specifically through weight loss, a healthier diet and exercising more. Here are the top 3 failed New Year’s resolutions:

  • Diet or eating healthier (54% failed)
  • Exercising more (44% failed)
  • Losing weight (41% failed)

Whilst I am honestly thrilled that so many people recognise the need for change and set out to achieve these resolutions, I am not surprised so many fail. Even if the motivation is there, the 6 am alarm is set, the new shopping list is written out, NO ONE can change their behaviour overnight.

A change of behaviour must be preceded by a process, broken down into manageable and achievable steps. Whether this is a process of identification, of learning, or even changing thought patterns to support the desired behaviour; whatever it is, it’s hard to just do overnight. But that is not to say it’s impossible!

As with any want for change, the first thing that must be established is your goal. What is it exactly that you want to achieve? What excites you and makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning? Your goal is something that has meaning, purpose and something that directs your actions. Unless you tie your goal to something that is significant to you then the chances of burning out and losing interest are very high.

Once you have narrowed down on the above questions and developed your answers, then you can start to apply the SMART goal-setting principles. These principles give guidance in the setting of objectives and goals and have a couple of variations depending on the type of goal, but some suggestions include:

S: specific, significant
M: measurable, meaningful
A: attainable, achievable
R: relevant, results-orientated
T: time-bound, trackable

So an example of a goal without using these principles would be something along the lines of: “I want to lose weight so I feel better about myself.” Using the same example, when applying the SMART principles it would look like this: “I want to lose 6kg in three months, which follows the recommended 0.5kg weight loss per week. I am going to track my progress through photos, measurements and how clothes fit me as I know confidence will come from inside (intrinsic motivation) rather than a number of the scales (extrinsic motivation).”

You can already see how much more specific and personal the second goal is, right? The same idea applies to whatever your New Year’s Resolution is, whether it is to do with health, fitness or business. So now you’ve established your goal, your end-point and the finish line. Now what? Well, you need to pave the path that will allow you to reach your goals.

Because remember: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action becomes reality.” Everything we have discussed from the start to the end of this blog comes back to this quote.

We have established what your intrinsic dream is. We then applied the SMART principles, setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and trackable guidelines, turning the dream into a goal. So the next step is to create a plan, breaking down each stage into its most basic form. This takes time but as with any form of goal setting, is absolutely necessary. This goal-setting strategy not only requires you to become even more specific with your goals but allows you to keep on top of your progress on the path towards making your dreams a reality.

Maybe you’ve already set yourself a New Year’s resolution, maybe you haven’t. Nevertheless, applying the principles we have spoken about and take the time to sit down and figure out exactly what it is you want to achieve and exactly what the process is going to be to get there.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks coming over the next few weeks to get your 2019 off to a great start!

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