Monday, March 24, 2008

How I Set Goals

hehe Okay, so I started setting goals in the beginning; I really just wanted to be accountable. I know myself and if it's not written down - if i can't "cross it off my list" and mark it as "done" it's just not as satisfactory. At first my goals were all about weight, nutrition and cardio - and they were ALL measureable. I personally can't work with goals that say "walk more" or "eat less." Mine have to be "walk 84 miles/month or 21 miles/week," "don't exceed 1,750 calories 20 days per month, etc.). I need numbers and I need a start and stop (the beginning of the month/the end of the month). I also need to see them - I post them on my blog - can't miss them and helps me stay on track. Later, after I started losing weight, I realized I didn't just want to be thinner. I wanted to do things I love to do - make reading a priority, make doing things around the house a priority, cooking, etc. So I began adding 'human interest' goals in addition to my weight loss/nutrition/cardio goals.

For me, goals need to be:
  1. Written down - so I can have a constant reminder of what I said I wanted to do!

  2. Measureable - numbers, numbers, numbers so I can benchmark and show progress.

  3. Timely - I have to have a start and stop time. I'd never say - i'm going to make 20 recipes. Um, when? By August 31. Done - now I have a "deadline" - and I can monitor as the month goes on.

  4. Well-rounded - not just about losing X many pounds or walking X many miles, also cooking X many recipes and reading X many books!

  5. Attainable - I'm all for goals I can achieve. I'd never say i'm going to read 10 books in one month. I won't! But.... if I see 4 books getting "easy," i'll try for 5! I'm also not afraid to break a goal down. If I want to lose 20 pounds, I broke it out over months. My goal in 2009 was to walk 1,000 miles that year, so it was broken over months, weeks even, to make it more attainable.

  6. Realistic - like attainable, you want to set goals you're capable of achieving. Who can lose 20 pounds in a month? Not me. Who wants to have 20 goals and not meet any because the bar is unrealistically high? How discouraging! Look at where you are and start small - then build up from there!

  7. Detailed - This is hard for me. For instance, I had a goal as "Research CFW (crap free weeks." It was a bit too high level for me. Instead, I should have said read an article from 3 different sources about CFWs and by the end of the month determine if it's for me. This is specific enough to make it actionable. Another one I failed on because it wasn't detailed enough: "Work on Wedding Album." I should have said "Start and complete 5 pages in my wedding album by the end of the month." Seems less daunting and it's specific enough so I'll know when I've achieved it.

  8. Fun! This may sound rediciulous, but they need to be fun - things you WANT to do. They can't all be things you HAVE to do or 'chores.' I think you should honestly, on some level, look forward to achieving all of your goals, but some need to be fun and they ALL need to be for you - to better yourself, to try something you haven't before, etc.

I think the most important thing about goals I've learned in my last couple of years of setting/tracking/assessing goals is that you won't get it all done. You just won't. But you WILL form great habits, learn new things (that you may or may not like!), feel better about yourself and feel more focused. K - that's my goal chat! I hope you don't think i'm some weird goal-oriented freak. :)

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