posted on July 16, 2018
Last week we got into some of our staff goals: where we succeeded, where we failed, and what we’re taking on this second half of the year. This week, I want to talk about the why and how. Why did we fail at what we set out? How do we adjust and set ourselves up for success as we move forward?
More often than not, we really set ourselves up to fail. I wrote about SMART goals way back at the end of 2017. To review, SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time-bound. That means your typical “I want to lose weight” goal is out, but “I want to lose 10 lbs over the course of 3 months” is in. Go over your initial 2018 goals: how many actually met these criteria? If they didn’t, how many did you totally fail at? Probably most of them.
Ultimately, there are a ton of reasons why we don’t meet our goals. When you read through our stories from last week, you’ll notice a lot of mentions of life getting in the way. We can’t predict everything life will throw our way, try as we might. Sometimes your dog gets sick, or you get sick, or your living situation suddenly changes. It happens. But it’s important to take Ryan’s advice: pick up where you left off and don’t just abandon goals that you really care about. Casey is on track for his August meet goals despite letting training take a backseat to taking care of Lily. Ryan is working on recovering from his workouts better so he can meet his lifting goals later this year. They’re adjusting their expectations and plans to the realities they’re facing.
On the flip side, it’s important to recognize when we’re using “life getting in the way” as just another excuse. I’ll use myself as an example here. I can tell myself as much as I want that I didn’t go to Austin because it cost too much money or I was just too busy at the gym, but none of that is really true. I just didn’t prioritize that goal over the other things I had going on. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but part of the growing process is accepting those hard truths. Now I’m left to decide whether that’s a goal worth keeping, and if so, how I’m actually going to get there.
First, sit down with your original goal list. Recognize what you’ve succeeded with and what you dropped the ball on. More importantly, ask yourself why you set those goals. If I’m being totally honest, I decided I wanted to go to Austin on a whim. The certification would be helpful for work, but I really just had the travel bug when I set it. I didn’t have a real plan to get there, I just felt like I wanted it. Sometimes simply wanting something isn’t good enough. Engage with yourself on this. If your goals really matter to you, you’ll be able to explain why to yourself.
One method I really enjoy to teasing out the why is setting a vision. Earlier this year, I sat down and wrote out what my ideal day would look like 10 years from now. I let myself get really into it, describing everything down to what my house and neighborhood looked like and what I ate for dinner that day. I looked at my work schedule, how that meshed with the needs of myself and my family, and what my social life would look like. With that ideal life in mind, I started writing out goals with more specific timelines. My 10 year goals break down into 5 year goals which break down into my yearly goals. If you’re like Alexa, you can take this all the way down to the month or week. The possibilities for geeking out at goal setting are endless! With a very clear vision of how all of these smaller goals add up, it’s easy to figure out why I really want to do certain things (and why I let “life” get in the way of goals that don’t really get me to that vision).
Now that you’ve gotten to the why, we need to refocus on the how. Take those curveballs life threw you into consideration when you’re adjusting your goals. My example: I thought I’d have a 900lb total in the bag this year. I now see that was too much of a reach. I’m keeping those SMART principles in mind and adjusting for something more attainable for the rest of this year. I can reach an 850lb total if I continue to train hard and put some more effort into recovering. I’m just extending the timeline on my original goal to be more in line with what I can realistically do. I’m not ashamed of that! We all want quick results, I’m no exception.
So planning is fine and all, but now we actually need to make progress on these readjusted goals! To get there, I like to use the same approach Alexa mentioned last week: breaking that goal down into small, manageable pieces to be completed every day or week. How that looks will vary based on the goal. For my 850lb total goal, that means I’ll need to 1) plan out my training cycle, 2) commit to training 4 days per week, 3) commit to meal prepping every Sunday so I can eat well throughout the week, and 4) reorganize my nighttime routine to set myself up to sleep better.
Process goals like these give you something to check off on a day by day (or week by week) basis. If one day you miss one, you can just make it up another day and move on! All of those mini accomplishments will help keep your motivation up, so you’ll keep working those process goals until you get to the big one at the end.
I hope you can take some of this advice and run with it (towards your new goals, of course). If you need some help pulling out those smaller goals, just ask! Our mission here at UF is to help all of you reach your health and wellness goals, however that looks.