Have a goal? Write it down.

We all have grandiose ideas of what we want to achieve in one aspect of our life or another. We may even fantasize about what it will be like when we reach this goal; how much better life will be. Maybe you daydream about strolling along the beach once you start your new magical weight loss program, and how amazing you’re going to look… and how envious everyone else will be of you and your new level of confidence. Just like in the ad.

Whatever your goal looks like, there are reasons you are either achieving it, or not achieving it. Maybe your goal is small and attainable, but you just aren’t sure how to make it happen. Maybe your goal is large and long term, but you just cannot wait to reach it.

When working with my clients, I find that the ones who are most successful are those who set goals and keep track of their struggles and progressions. Whenever I start with a new client, one question I always ask them is, "What is your overall goal?" This opens the door for a discussion on the importance of long and short term goal setting.

When we have a larger than life long term goal, it's like the light at the end of the tunnel: It gives us something to strive for. It is important to remember that long term goals are just that, long term. This means we need to then break this goal down into smaller more easily attainable ones. If you have a long term goal of losing 20lbs, then the first step is to ask yourself “what changes do I need to make on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis in order to achieve this goal?”

Pinpointing a long term goal is the easy part, but devising realistic short term goals are the keys to our success. Let's pretend my goal is that 20lb weight loss, and I say to myself, “I am going to lose 20lbs by next summer.” Great, now what? How do I go about achieving this?

Well, the first step is to assess my goal and see if it is realistic. Maybe 20lbs is a little extreme, but what I really want is to feel more comfortable in my clothes. So if weight loss is my long term goal in order to make my clothes fit better, the next step would be to think of three or four individual changes I can make to achieve that goal. Then I would need to think up a few ways that I can make those individual changes happen. I may even find along my journey that my goals need to be reassessed or tweaked in some way, and that’s ok. 

The long and short of this is that small changes will lead to larger changes, and those changes to even larger ones still, ultimately allowing me to reach my overall long term goal. Picture a dart board, with the bullseye being your long term goal, and so on.  

Imagining yourself on that beach is easy, but to make it happen takes planning and discipline, and sometimes a little guidance in order to know what changes can and need to be made. Charting all this information down in a comprehensive way can make it all much less overwhelming and more attainable. Thus you are decreasing your chances of becoming discouraged and quitting, and increasing your chances of success.

From time to time we may find that we need to ask for help. Admitting this is a strength. Maybe that is your first short term goal toward your stroll down the beach…