Stop sabotaging your resolution!

Stop sabotaging your resolutions: Goal setting simplified

By now most well-intentioned new year’s resolution progress has already slowed to a halt.  It’s only a week into the new year but months or years of ingrained habits can’t change on will power alone.  Over many discussions this week, it’s become pretty clear that with the overall outcome as the main focus, the feat of achievement is too great a task, no matter how strong the intentions.  Setting new goals and actually achieving them requires the following:

  1. Help
  2. Time
  3. A simplified system for achieving the overall desired outcome.

Let’s try to break this down into steps:

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Step 1: Agree on the outcome you want to achieve:

What is your desired end point?  That is your outcome goal.  Outcome goals are the final destination. They may be something like this:

  • I want to be able to do x pull-ups(s)
  • I want to fit into x size pants/dress
  • I want to run x distance
  • I want to get off of x medication(s)
  • I want to keep up with my spouse / daughter on our hiking trip


Step 2: Make behavior goals based on your outcome goal

To achieve the desired outcome, some things must be done.  Ask yourself and your trainer the following question:  What needs to be done to get the outcome I want?   Take the answers to your question and identify actions, behaviors, and daily tasks that you might need to achieve the desired outcome.  Then turn those actions into goals.  They may look something like this:

  • Move more
  • Eat the right kinds of foods
  • Eat the right amount of foods
  • Follow up my progress with my coach

These behavior goals generally require the learning or relearning of skills.  If there is something that you want to achieve and will power alone hasn’t helped you achieve it, then certain skill sets will be necessary for achieving it.


Step 3: Break the behavior goals down even further.

Let’s break down the first item on your list further, move more might include behaviors like:

  • Show up to the gym
  • Break up long periods of sitting at work and at home
  • Stretch more
  • Do more movement-based activities with my family


Step 4: Break those behaviors down even further:

Let’s use the example of break up long periods of sitting at work and at home.

This can involve:

  • Every 2 hours at work, I will get up and walk to the bathroom and back.
  • I will set a reminder on my phone to alert me every two hours to get up.
  • After every DVR’ed show I watch in the evenings or on the weekend at home, I will get up and walk around the house.
  • I will keep the remote control in another room to ensure that I remember to stand up after every show.

Now you have some actions based goals around your behavior goals that will start you down the path towards your desired outcome. The wonderful thing about behavioral goals is that they can be controlled and measured (outcome-based goals are much harder to control and can lead to frustration and failure if you do not notice a steady progression towards your goal).

By consistently achieving your action steps, you are making movement towards creating behaviors that will result in a positive progression towards your outcome goal without getting frustrated or giving up within a week.

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Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  1. Your Ideal goal should be:
    • Clear
    • Simple
    • Specific
    • Concrete
    • Doable
    • Relatively easy
    • Linked to the outcome you desire
  2. Know the difference between “avoid” and “approach” goals and 80% of the time focus on approach goals (our brains tend to like addition vs subtraction)
    • Avoid goals are things you want to stop doing. (Stop smoking, eating junk food, drinking soda, etc)
    • Approach goals are things that you can start doing, or do more of.  (Eat more colorful vegetables, prepare food plans in advance, drink water with each meal, increase my meal time 15 min to allow me to eat slower)
  3. Performance comes from following a process of getting better at skills that enhance the overall outcome.
    • Running a marathon comes from mastering: running regularly, proper nutirtion to support running, proper exercise and stretching to enhance running technique.
    • Doing a pull up comes from mastering: strengthening the appropriate muscles required to do a pull-up with other exercises, proper nutrition to support strength gains, and working on proper technique.
    • Developing more of an athletic body comes from mastering: learning how to plan out meals, consistently preparing well-designed meals, getting with a trainer to learn proper lifting techniques and programming to support developing a muscular build.


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