Successful Goal-Setting for the New Year

Happy 2014! Made any New Year’s resolutions? If you have, you are in great company. Research shows that nearly half of all Americans, or about 158 million people, set New Year’s resolutions every year. As far as yearly goals in the United States are concerned, losing weight and exercising regularly are at the top of everybody’s list.

The bad news is that only 8 percent of all U.S. resolution makers, or 12.5 million people, ever achieve their goals. Ouch!

Forget about America’s top 1 percent you read about. This is the year you join the elite 8 percent who actually reach their New Year’s resolutions. This year will be different. This year you have a plan.

Tim Bruffy, owner of Atlas Fitness, will show you the way forward. “At Atlas Fitness we like to use SMART goal setting,” he explains. “SMART is a formula, used as an aid in remembering, to make your goals more focused and powerful. It stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.”

Problems with Setting Goals

People have to be SMART. Everybody needs to be able to set and achieve consistent smaller goals to keep engaged and feeling like progress is being made toward their larger goal. Otherwise it’s just too easy to perceive failure and abandon your goals.

People have to look backwards to move forward. As Diana Furrow, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and Atlas Fitness client, says, “It’s very important to consider what you tried last year. What were your past resolutions? What kept you from being successful before?”

Keeping these considerations in mind, here are your keys from Bruffy and Furrow for becoming one of the elite 8 percent.

Your SMART Cheat Sheet

1.      Create both nutritional/diet related goals and fitness goals. 

2.      Set daily and weekly goals that can be easily measured: “I will lose a pound a week” or “I will schedule a meeting with a nutritionist.” Consistently reaching short-term goals makes meeting long-term goals possible.

3.      Make your goals positive. Example: When skiing, count the number of runs you made, not the number of times you fell. Counting the number of times fallen is a negatively reinforcing measurement.

4.      Write it down. Use paper. Find a fitness or diet journal app that fits your preferences. Writing things down makes ideas tangible, clear, and real. Tracking allows you to see and evaluate your progress.

5.      Use wearable technology. Many activity and food journals tie in with wearable technology that tracks daily activity, calories burned, number of steps taken. If you can see progress toward reaching your health and goals at the end of a week, you are much less likely to wreck everything over a weekend or a meal.

6.      Tell as many people as possible. Create a New Year’s resolution advisory board. The more tools you build for personal accountability, the more likely you are to be successful.

7.      Talk to yourself. Tell yourself in the mirror every morning what your goal is for that day and what you will do to reach it.

8.      Reevaluate your goals, activities, tools, and plans. Every few months, review your progress. Identify possible changes for improvement. Recognize any and all progress.

9.      Acknowledge. 

There will be bad days or weeks along the way, periods of time with no changes on the scale at all.

Think: Are my clothes fitting better?

This happens to everyone. This does not mean failure.

Dave Liss is a personal trainer. To learn about personal training and fitness opportunities available with Atlas Fitness go to www.atlasfitnessdc.comor call 202-525-5183.

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