By: Amy Cimo
January 31, 2023
Each year on December 31, when the clock strikes midnight, millions of people vow to do start fresh, do something new, or be someone different.
“This year, I’m going to get that promotion…”
“Finally, I’ll lose the weight….”
Having a desire to do and achieve more is wonderful. And the new year is such a motivating time for people, because there’s nothing like ripping away the last page on that calendar, throw out the past and look to the future.
But after a few weeks the holiday luster wanes, old habits creep to the surface and our dreams seem too far to grasp. When motivation dwindles, don’t back time. Reflect and re-strategize. Use this two-part process to work toward your vision.
Part One: Be SMART. Set clear and attainable goals.
Whether your goals are personal or professional, understanding your vision for the future is important. Use your vision to determine the goals that will help you get there. But be SMART about it.
SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
- Specific – Your goal should be defined and clearly understood. Don’t make it ambiguous. What is it that you ultimately want to achieve? For example, being healthier is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds is a more defined and clear goal.
- Measurable – You should be able to measure your goal against identified criteria to show how you’re progressing throughout your journey. Break larger goals into smaller milestones and work to achieve one at a time. If you’re taking an online course to sharpen your skills, put deadlines on completing individual sections. This will help you bite off a little at a time rather than overwhelming yourself with a larger task.
- Achievable – Your goal should never be out of the realm of possibility. It’s OK to feel pushed outside of your comfort zone – in fact, it should be challenging! If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. But it shouldn’t be impossible to reach the finish line.
- Realistic – Consider your why. Why do you want to achieve this goal? Is it relevant to your life? Is it going to contribute to something larger? Are you even motivated to move forward? If it doesn’t make sense for you and your values, it may not be the right goal.
- Timely – Put a deadline on your goal or each milestone that adds up to you reaching your target. This creates a sense of urgency that helps drive you forward to keep you from slacking on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Part Two: Turn your goals into actions.
Goals are much more achievable when you do three things:
- Break down your goal into specific skills. These are abilities or competencies you need to move toward your goal. Think about the type of person you are working to become and brainstorm a list of skills that person would possess.
- To lose 10 pounds, the skill I need to master is moving often.
- Build these skills and improve on them through targeted practices – exercises and applications that help you build those skills.
- To move often, I must spend more time intentionally moving.
- And finally, break down your practices into small, concrete and specific actions you can complete consistently. When done repeatedly over time, these actions become habits.
- To add more intentional movement into my day, I’ll block my calendar for a 15 minute walk each afternoon.
But wait… I hit a roadblock.
If the pandemic taught us nothing else, it at least taught us that life is pretty unpredictable, right?
Things happen. Family members get sick. Cars break down. Meetings run long. We can’t expect things will always go our way. But we can always expect the unexpected.
Here are a few strategies to overcome obstacles.
- Plan and prepare. You can’t expect to ace the interview if you don’t know anything about the job. To build habits, you must first set yourself up for success. Likewise, plan for the hurdles you already know are coming. Strategize how you will handle those challenges before they become problematic.
- Prioritize your tasks to ensure you focus on what truly matters. Don’t be afraid to say no to something that doesn’t align with your vision.
- Ask for help when you need it. You can’t always do it alone and you shouldn’t. Having a strong support system goes a long way in helping you on your journey.
- Actively manage your stress and get adequate rest and recovery. Hustle culture = burnout. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with turning your phone off to decompress. Or getting a few extra hours of sleep when your body needs it. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is take a break.
- Learn from your mistakes. Rather than feeling defeated, use them as opportunities to adjust and move forward. Recognize that change takes time, by building one consistent habit after another.
Amy Cimo is a local Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer and former Forum 225 Board Member. After going through her own health journey, she found her passion in helping others find balance between nutrition, physical activity and mindset to live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.
Connect with Amy: https://www.instagram.com/amycimo/