In reality, a goal is simply a destination on a map. It is a place we want to be in the future. Imagine driving your car without a destination. You do not know where you might end up, right? It is the same with health and fitness, in that if you do not have a specific goal or destination, you could wind up anywhere on that map. As you draw your map and your future, observe the following rules for writing goals.
Do not write goals in negative terms.
Have you ever noticed the way we phrase things in terms of health and fitness goals? “I want to quit smoking.” “I want to lose weight.” These goals are written in negative terms. Written this way, even when you accomplish your goals, you are either a quitter or a loser! Write your goals with a positive spin.
Goals should be attainable.
Let’s face it – not all of us can be as fit as Lance Armstrong or have the physique of a supermodel. Make your goals realistic. If you remember a time when you felt pretty slim and healthy at a certain weight, make that your goal. And you may not be able to completely stop taking your medications for cholesterol, diabetes or blood pressure, but it is realistic to possibly reduce your need for them somewhat as you become more fit. (Never stop taking any medication unless directed to do so by a physician.)
Goals need to be measurable.
“I want to be thin” is not measurable. What does “thin” mean? Instead, think in terms of how much weight do you want to lose and by when? Or what size clothing you would like to be and when? Giving yourself a deadline or a finish line creates a sense of urgency and importance.
Goals need specific motivation.
This is the tangible reason for why you want to achieve this goal. We do not much care what the number on the scale says. It is just a number and there is not much emotion attached to it. Tying your goal to a meaningful event such as an upcoming reunion or vacation where you would like to look and feel your best gives your goal meaning and a sense of purpose.
Here are some examples of goals written with the above rules in mind:
1. I will build up to exercising 5 days a week by July 31 of this year so that I need less insulin.
2. For the next 30 days I will get into the habit of eating at least three servings of vegetables a day so that I will live to see my children grow up.
3. I will be at my ideal weight by May 31 of next year so that I can fit into size 8 clothing.
Get started by setting goals and mapping your future and you will be at your destination in no time at all!
By Dr. Jennifer D. Wetmore (copyright 2006)