Profile's Senior Learning and Development Specialist Natalie Papini highlights the importance of goal setting and how goals can help you achieve success on your Profile journey.
I was recently traveling in the Chicago metro area. My destination was a spot I had never been before, and, according to my phone, it was about 28 minutes away from my starting point. As usual, I plugged the address into the app on my phone and a woman with a British accent began providing navigation instructions. About 5 minutes into my trip, the app froze. Lost and in an unfamiliar area, I could physically feel my body react: my face felt hot, my stomach dropped and my hands gripped the steering wheel tight.
The sense of being lost in unchartered territory does not feel good — it’s uncomfortable at best and downright terrifying at worst. This same feeling can occur when you’re trying to make changes with an end goal in mind but seem to be aimlessly driving without much clarity or direction on how to get there.
If done correctly, your goals can serve as a GPS navigation system for your weight loss, creating a clear path to achieving the results you desire. Here are 5 questions to ask when setting your goals:
1. Are my goals specific?
You wouldn’t just type “store” into your GPS if you knew the exact name of the establishment you wanted to go to. The same applies for narrowing down a vague goal statement, such as “I want to drink more water” or “I want to be more active.” Breaking these statements down to be more specific can be done by asking yourself some of the following questions:
• What do I actually want to do?
• Where will I accomplish this goal?
• Who can help me along the way / what supports can I enlist to get this done?
• How will I go about accomplishing this goal?
2. Can I measure my goals?
How will you measure your goal? How will your coach know you’re making progress? One reason we set specific goals is so we can measure success along the way. Anytime you can assign a unit of measurement to your goal, you are setting yourself up for success because you can track your progress and accurately communicate it with your coach. Precise amounts, dates and other details help you measure how successful you are. If your goal is simply to increase physical activity, how will you know when you have been successful? Put exact numbers to it! If you walk for 60 minutes a week, make your goal to walk for 90 minutes a week and work up from there! Without a way to measure your success, you might miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have achieved it. Every little goal can make a big difference over time!
3. Are my goals actionable?
What is it you intend to do? If you shift your goals away from weight-related goals (I want to lose 3 pounds by next week) to behaviors that are within your control (I want to walk my dog for 30 minutes, 4 times over the next week) you put yourself in the driver’s seat of your Profile journey. You can’t control how much weight you lose on any given day, week or month, but you can control whether you have that mid-morning shake or drink that extra cup of water to reach 64 ounces. Refocus your goal around things you can control and trust that when you take care of the things within your control the rest will fall into place.
4. Are my goals realistic and relevant?
In the same way you wouldn’t give yourself 10 minutes to arrive at a destination that is 30 minutes away, you don’t want to set goals you have no shot at accomplishing. Setting a realistic goal requires some introspection. You need to be honest with yourself about your time, ability and motivation. This self-reflection is where growth happens. Starting small and building on your goal in increments is a great way to make sure your goal is realistic. If your gut tells you the goal might be out of reach, figure out ways to tone it down so you feel more confident in your ability to achieve it. Likewise, if your goal is too easy, you might put it off or forget about it. If it feels like you’ve started too small, up the ante and make it a bit more difficult. Compelling goals that are within your reach should involve some struggle and discomfort. There is an element of failure (although, we can change how we view failure) when we set goals that are not too easy but not impossible.
However, even if your goal is realistic, you must also ensure the goal is relevant. If the destination you enter into your navigation system doesn’t excite you, you might welcome the lack of direction and turn back around to your starting point. If something is not meaningful to you and does not get you excited, it might not be a goal worth having. What is a change you would like to make that, when you visualize yourself going for it, makes you feel excited or puts a smile on your face? By identifying what matters to you, you will be more committed to seeing it through.
5. Can I make these goals time-bound?
Put a time stamp on it! Assigning a specific end date to your goal (or specifying several “checkpoints” that allow you to examine your progress) creates internal pressure to get it done. Most anyone who has ever had a boss assign a project at work without a due date understands how those things have a way of falling through the cracks and never getting done.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are an intelligent way to approach your weight loss in an honest, strategic, quantifiable way. Connect with your Profile Coach to assist in creating your S.M.A.R.T. goal. Profile Coaches are equipped with the tools to help you turn your vision into a reality.
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