Why do new year's resolutions usually fail? Why do you start with guns blazing on January 1st, but by February, you're losing motivation, cheating on your diet, skipping workouts, and slipping back into old patterns? John LaValle, a master trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests that we should take a closer look at the meaning behind the word "Resolution." Being derived from the word "re-solve," it really means "to solve again." And isn't that exactly what happens? You solve the same problem again and again, year after year?
You know what I'm talking about… That 20 pounds you lost last year, and promptly gained it right back… you are now resolving to take it off again aren't you? The very nature of the word resolution implies gaining it back again.
Suggestion: don't make resolutions. Set SMARTER goals.
Resolutions aren't real goals. They're more like wishes, and wishes are wishy-washy. A wish becomes a goal the moment you put it in writing. When you write your goals in a certain way, following scientific principles of success psychology, you'll skyrocket your chances of getting what you want this year… and keeping it.
One of the most tried and true methods for goal achievement is the SMART goals formula. If you searched the net for SMART goals, you would probably find a dozen different variations on the SMART goal acronym. Here's my version of SMART goals, along with a little extra to make them even SMART-ER.
1. Specific. Set goals with clarity. Your mind does not respond well to vague generalities. If you say your goal is to lose weight and then you lose one pound, then you've reached your goal. Is that what you really wanted? Get clear. Be precise. Be specific.
2. Measurable. Set goals that can be quantified in measurable units such as pounds, body fat percentage, lean body mass, inches and clothing sizes. Performance goals can include strength (lbs or kilos lifted) and repetitions completed. Don't forget to include health goals as well, such as blood pressure and blood lipids.
3. Accountable. Set goals you can be held accountable to. First be accountable to yourself by using a weekly progress chart, a daily nutrition diary and a training journal. Then double your motivation with external accountability and submit your results and journals to someone else who will hold you to your commitments.
4. Realistic. Set goals that are attainable and maintainable. If you lose two pounds of fat per week, you are doing awesome. 30 pounds in 30 days sounds great in the advertisements, but it is not typical, and rapid weight loss is likely to consist of muscle and water, not fat, and is nearly impossible to maintain.
5. Time Bound. Set goals with deadlines. Time limits are highly motivating. With no time limit, there is no urgency for completion. Set goals for daily workouts and nutrition, weekly weight and body composition and 12 week changes in weight, body fat or measurements. Set long term goals as well for one year, five years and even beyond. For all time periods, be certain that your deadline is realistic.
Now we add some motivational ooompf for this year by making your goals even SMART-ER!
6. Emotional. Goals give you a direction, but strong emotions are the propulsion system that drives you in that direction. Build up a burning desire by focusing on the emotional reasons why you want to achieve your goal. Connect your goals to your values. What's most important to you about reaching your goal? If you reach 9% body fat, or whatever is your target, what will that do for you? What will your life look like then? How will it make you FEEL?
7. Reviewed often. Resolutions fail because they are casually set once at the beginning of the year and easily forgotten. Stay laser-focused by writing and reading your goals every day. Repetition is one of the keys to re-programming your mental computer for success. Use the goal card technique. Write your single most important body or fitness goal on a small card, then carry it with you every where you go, reading it several times a day.
S.M.A.R.T.E.R. GOALS is a simple, memorable formula for goal setting and goal getting. It may not be new, but then again, there are no new fundamentals. Methods and tactics may change, but scientific principles of success never change. And don't forget to make your goals even smarter this year. A goal that's not strongly desired and kept in front of you every day will be forgotten. Stay focused, eat right, train hard and expect success!
"A goal that is casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle." - Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker