New You in 2019: Tips to setting goals, and actually achieving them

By: Greg Eskedjian, MSc., CSCS, Dip IOC Sports Nutrition

So the clock has struck midnight, the confetti has settled, and it’s time to start planning for the upcoming year. You look in the mirror and tell yourself “this year will be different”, or “time to make some big changes”, but how will you make sure that 2019 is different from previous years? We’ve all set goals or made New Year’s resolutions, just to see them fizzle away by the spring. Time to make 2019 different! Here are some tips that will hopefully help you set appropriate goals, and give you the best chance to achieve them.

Health is More Than Just Physical

When it comes to goal setting or New Year’s resolutions, people often only think about physical changes. “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get stronger”, “I want six-pack abs”. Although setting these types of goals are fine, you should also think about other important aspects of overall health that are often overlooked. Instead of focusing only on physical improvements, try set goals that will also improve your mental, emotional, spiritual and social well-being. Being able to improve in these different areas will help improve your overall health and well-being.

NOTE: Make sure your goals in these different areas are working together as opposed to combatting each other (ie. getting more sleep but also going out with friends more often).

Think Big, Set Small

Once we decide to set our goals, most of us will often focus on grand-scale changes. For example, “I want to lose 50 lbs in the next year”. However, we should focus our attention on setting smaller goals as well. Think about these small goals as “milestones” or “building blocks”. As we start to achieve these building blocks, they will ultimately help us reach the final outcome.

Start with setting daily or weekly goals for yourself. These may be small things like “sleep +7 hours tonight” or “drink 3 water bottles while at work” or “walk the dog 4 times this week”. These goals will not only contribute to your outcome, but also allow you to gauge your progress. If you are finding these small goals difficult to achieve, you can then tailor them to be more realistic, or vice versa, making them more challenging if they are easily achieved. Therefore, think and focus small to achieve big!

Each Goal Should have a Process Laid Out

One of the biggest problem people have in attempting to accomplish their goals is figuring out HOW. It’s one thing to say “I want to lose 50 lbs this year”; it’s another thing to create a plan or have a process to do so. Therefore, this year, when you set a goal, make sure you have a process to follow that will help you reach it.

For example, if my goal was to lose 50 lbs this year, I would want to look at the different ways I could foster this change. I would reflect on my eating habits (not buy junk food, fast food only 1x/wk, eat raw vegetables daily, no eating after 7pm), reflect on my exercise habits (go to the gym 3x/wk, take the stairs daily at work, walk for 20min at lunch every day), as well as any other areas of focus I would like to improve. Creating this “road map” for your success will make you more aware of the direction you need to take towards success.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

After setting our goals and working full force in January to achieve them, we often start to lose track of what we originally set out to accomplish. Everyone has a different way of keeping themselves on track or accountable, but make sure not to let your goals become distant memory.

Embark on this journey with a friend, work with a trainer (I know some pretty great Strength & Conditioning Coaches at Mind to Muscle that would love to help), set reminders in your phone or even write your goals down and put them somewhere visible (fridge, bathroom mirror, desk at work). These are all different strategies to keep you aware of what you are hoping to accomplish well beyond the winter.

Plan for a Relapse

No matter what the goal or behaviour change you are hoping to work towards, the odds are you will probably fail. Now before you get mad and stop reading, let me explain. Failing does not have to be negative, or more importantly, permanent. Failure should be viewed as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, so that when we get back on track, we don’t let the same mistakes happen.

It is very uncommon for someone to reach their goal without some bumps in the road. Therefore, plan for them! Know how to get back on track after a hectic week where you weren’t able to workout, or a family gathering where you ate too many sweets. These “relapses” often cause people to lose hope or abandon their goals. Success has been defined as “getting up one more time than you fall”, so get back up, shake it off, and learn from your mistakes.

Enjoy the Process, Not Just the Progress

The most important tip I can give you is enjoy the process. Accomplishing your goals may not always be fun, and will require sacrifice and determination, but try and learn to enjoy the journey that leads you to success.

Too often we only focus on the progress we are making as opposed to the steps that got us there. This can be problematic because if you do not enjoy the process, you will be more likely to quit before reaching your goals, or abandon the things that made you successful once you accomplish them. Therefore, aim to create sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes that you enjoy (certain types of workouts, different healthy recipes, enjoyable stress-coping strategies) so these new healthy habits extend well beyond reaching your goal.

With these tips in mind, I hope you are able to set goals this New Years and have success in reaching them. Also, if I can stress one point, it would be PATIENCE. We often want to see results and changes immediately, but as the expression says “all good things are worth the wait”. Therefore, create your road map, write your goals down, and enjoy the process. If you do these things, the results will follow. Good luck!