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Monday, December 24, 2007

Surviving New Year Resolutions - Using Goal Setting Techniques to Make This the Year

Ok, so it's not quite Christmas yet, but it is getting close to the end of the year. Every year many people make New Year Resolutions. This is going to be the year they lose weight, give up smoking, spend more time with their kids, or whatever else they feel is important. This is all well and good, but how often do we hear of New Year's resolutions flopping? They fail to the point where it's become a running joke in society.

There's no need for that.

As I often say when it comes to goal setting, pick concrete goals. Part of the problem with most New Year resolutions is that they're vague to the point of hopeless. Many people want to "lose weight". Um, ok. If you dig a little bit you'll find that they were happiest when they were 20 or 30 pounds lighter, or their waist was 32", or something similar. Which goal do you think is going to be more likely to be met: "Lose weight", or "I will reduce my waist from 40" to 32". Trust me, it's the second one.

The other problem with New Year resolutions is that they're often grand in scale. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I think you should aim high, but a huge goal can be daunting when you're looking at it from the beginning. Want to lose 50 pounds this year? That's a lot of weight! That means that you'll have to lose, on average, about a pound a week for the WHOLE YEAR. That can be mind-boggling for some people.

What about if you set your year goal for 50 pounds, and then took a step back. We all know that weight loss is usually much more rapid at the beginning of a diet, so let's set some ambitious goals early. How about losing eight pounds in January (doable) and seven in February (also doable). Well, now you're 15 pounds down in only eight weeks. That makes the big goal look a little less scary, doesn't it?

Your homework for the weekend is to come up with three goals for next year, fitness-related or not. Then take a look at each of these three goals and give each a six-month goal, a three-month goal, and a very specific, ambitious, and attainable one-month "jump start" goal. After the New Year I don't want you to worry about your three, six, or twelve-month goals. Just focusing on hitting that attainable one-month goal. After you do that, then you can reevaluate towards your other goals with some real confidence behind you!

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Isaac Wilkins, M.Ed, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Training athletes and driven individuals in Charleston, SC and beyond. Get strong, get fast, become the new you.

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