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With the new year comes the dreaded R word: resolution. We’ve all made them and we’ve all given up on them by the middle of January or maybe February 1 for the more determined. Why do we fail to follow through so often? Because the resolutions we pick are broad, unsustainable, unmeasurable goals. So how do we set sustainable goals?
Experts will tell you that the easiest way to stick to a resolution is to choose smaller concrete goals because they are more sustainable. In other words, don’t say that you want to stop eating out every day. Instead, choosing a smaller goal like only eating out twice a week for a month or six months works a little better.
How do we set these sustainable goals?
5 Essential Elements of Sustainable Goals
- Reasonable Time Limit or Time Frame
- Tracking Mechanism
5 Essential Elements of Sustainable Goals That You Can Achieve
All goals should have a tangential, measurable result. It can be as simple as losing 10 pounds or walking 10,000 steps a day.
Reasonable Time Limit or Time Frame :
The importance of a goal having a reasonable end date or time frame cannot be emphasized enough. The sustainability of the goal correlates directly to how long it will take you to achieve your desired result. Saying you want to lose 10 pounds by July or you want to walk 10,000 steps a day for the month of January is much more possible than saying you want to lose 10 pounds in a week or walk 10,000 steps a day for a year.
Sustainable goals require accountability. You must have at least one person in your life that will help keep you on track. So many of the goals that I’ve achieved have been directly related to the people I’m accountable to, whether it’s my job or my weight loss journey. The goals you’re setting for New Year’s and other times should include the person you’re accountable to (and who knows they should be holding you accountable). And don’t be afraid to offer to be someone else’s accountability partner for their sustainable goals.
Sustainable goals should include some kind of tracking mechanism, whether it’s a habit tracker in your bullet journal, a star on a chart you hang on your fridge, or just a daily email to your accountability buddy.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but honestly, I believe that sustainable goals are goals that have some flexibility. Weight loss is one of those things that should definitely be flexible. It might take longer or it might look different than what you expect it to look like. It’s one thing to have a goal of losing 10 pounds by July, but what if you lose 8 pounds by your deadline and you fit into that swimsuit you wanted to fit into? Does the fact that you didn’t quite meet your goal negate the fact that you achieved your ultimate end result? What if you lose those 2 pounds the following week?
These are the kinds of things you have to think about. I would even argue that you should be prepared to give yourself grace if you fail to meet your sustainable, concrete goals. Life does happen more than we would like it to.
Sustainable Goals: A Successful Failure or a Failing Success
For the year 2018, I made one of my goals to lose 60 pounds (100 pounds total) through WW, more gym, and better food choices by December 31. I did not achieve this goal even though I attended all my WW workshops, went to the gym, found ways to be more active, and tried to make better food choices. In fact, I lost 23 pounds in 2018, bringing my total to 63 pounds, only 37 pounds shy of my goal.
Yet … I still feel really happy about the results of my goal. The results were not reflected on the scale until recently. However, the truth is I’ve been even happier to watch the inches fall off my body instead. 23 pounds seems like almost nothing compared to my goal. Yet I am currently wearing sizes 18/20 and 22/24 instead of the 30/32 sizes I was wearing 20 months ago. I’ve had so much personal joy in finding adorable clothes in retail stores rather than online. So yes, the scale doesn’t reflect all the hard work I put into my health last year, but my body is changing in fantastic and surprising ways.
In order to make your goals sustainable, you must have an end result in sight within a reasonable time frame, have a method of accountability and a way of tracking, and most importantly, have the grace to be flexible if the goal doesn’t occur.
What are your sustainable goals in 2019? Please share in the comments below.