Having goals are important because you give yourself a chance to get something done so that you’re closer to achieving something you want. When I think of goals, I think of Atomic Habits by James Clear. In this inspiring book, he talks about how stacking little habits can lead to big results.
It starts with the first step. That first step should be you making that decision to change something in your life that you want to be changed. Sounds simple, right? Yeah, I wish it was just that but it really involves you wanting to make the change. You won’t want to do the thing if you don’t really want the thing. Real poetic, I know but it’s the truth.
If you’re not happy with a job, you quit. If you’re not satisfied with a relationship, you let it go. If you want to lose weight, you portion your meals. These are all-cause and effect actions in achieving your goals. I have 5 steps that I follow whenever I want to achieve a goal:
1. Think about what makes you happy
Wanting to change my life makes me want to create a goal. The change usually consists of how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling sluggish or not motivated to do anything, I think about the things that make me happy. An example of this will be if I’m not fitting into my jeans and feel like a stuffed sausage when I put them on. I’m not happy about
the situation but instead of being down all day, I think of what it felt like putting on jeans and not having that dreadful feeling of getting it stuck around my thighs. It’s a great feeling and I know that I am going to have to re-think my eating and fitness plans so I can achieve that feeling.
2. Make a Plan
Once I’ve established that happy feeling, I think about the steps I need to take in order to start. This usually consists of adding certain tasks to my calendar. For me, if it’s not on my calendar, it will never get done. I look at how my day is scheduled so I can incorporate some sort of activity during the day. I know that my furry best buddy loves going for a walk in the neighborhood so I will add 15 minutes a day in the morning to do that. It may not seem like much but it was 15 minutes more than what I did previously.
In addition to adding activity, I know that I need to streamline my eating habits. I’m a huge snacker so avoiding purchasing those items will prevent me from over-snacking. I, instead, find healthier alternatives. For example, I love gummy bears, especially Haribo Gold bears so an alternative to that sweet goodness is to snack on mandarin oranges or strawberries. Sure, it’s not the same but it satisfies my sweet tooth and I feel better about eating it.
I give myself a timeline with weekly check-ins and a deadline for when I want to achieve this goal. By creating a timeline, I break it down into smaller sections so I can indicate small achievements. We’re all built with some kind of incentive-driven mindset and feel like once we’ve achieved that mini-goal, we deserve something in return. At least, I am that way. An example of this would be, I set a mini-goal of eating Lean Cuisine 5 days a week. My incentive would be so that I would not have to think about what to eat during the week.
3. Check in with yourself
Every week, usually on a Sunday, I’ll access my situation to see how I’m feeling. I can be honest with myself when I journal since there is no judgment. Comparing the previous week to how I first felt when I started helps me determine if there was any change in my behaviors, but most importantly, rate how I’m feeling. I braindump everything on my mind making sure to write everything down and why I started the goal in the first place.
My method consists of 3 steps. I reflect on how my mind is feeling with the change. Writing down my thoughts mentally prepares me to continue because there’s a bigger reason why I decided to make the change. From my mind to my heart, I reflect on how I’m feeling emotionally. Expressing my feelings can be an emotional roller coaster but it can sometimes be an empty pit of nothing, It all comes down to if I’m prepared to continue. Mind, heart, and then spirit. I think about my purpose in this life. For me, my main purpose for any change and for a specific goal is to give my children a better life when I leave this earth.
That’s a tough pill to swallow but I understand that’s life. I spiritually prepare myself for the realization that if I don’t act on change, I am doing a disservice to my kids. I am their advocate so I NEED to advocate for myself so I can advocate for them. Reflecting on this prepares me for the next steps.
4. Access the Change
Getting on a scale or trying on a pair of jeans are ways I can access the change. Whatever the goal is, there's always something to measure. Everyone always talks about the SMART goals. According to an article by Indeed, SMART goals are 5 steps. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. It all makes sense but to me, I follow these steps yet I tweak it to match me. This step would be Measurable in the SMART method. The way I would measure the goal would be for me to get on that scale and see what my numbers look like. There is an actual method of doing this as well. You can’t just step on a scale. You have to make sure you are wearing the exact outfit you were wearing when you first started. In addition to this, you need to perform this action around the same time you initially checked the scale. The most important thing is that you use the exact same scale every time.
There are times a scale is not an accurate number to go by since there are other factors like muscle weighs more than fat or water weight. As I've previously stated, I access the change by either getting on a scale or by trying on the same pair of jeans that were sucking the life out of me previously. I determine if there is a change and make note of it.
5. Pep Talk
This one is extremely important. As the saying goes, save the best for last. Having a Pep Talk with yourself is key to success since we tend to be critical of ourselves more than others. Mine usually consists of calling myself names that involve a bunch of beeps then I stop and realize that I am human and I am allowed to make mistakes. Mistakes are fine as long as you learn from them and choose another path when faced with the issue again.
I’ve learned and become accustomed to giving myself grace. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not and I know that I am far from perfect but I know this and I accept this. I strive to be humble and not let my disabilities hinder my daily life. This goes back to Step 3 with checking in with myself. I have a bigger reason for wanting this change. I need to re-access and get my mind right so I can continue this journey.
Understanding these steps are key to creating and reaching a goal. Everyone has different ways of doing things so do what makes you happy and whatever works. This is what I do that works for me but if you feel the steps should be reversed, by all means, reverse it to benefit yourself. It’s your life so I encourage you to make the most of it and know that we all have a purpose.