Setting goals is an essential first step to success, particularly when it comes to weight loss. That's because realizing your dreams requires a systematic approach. Here are our suggestions:
Identify What You Want
Knowledge is power, and knowing what you want gives you the power to get it. In order to meet your goals, you have to be very clear about what they are, especially when it comes to weight loss. To start, make sure your goals are:
- Positive. The thought of achieving your goals should make you feel good.
- Specific — state the who, what, when, where and how.
- Attainable on your own — that means your success doesn't rely on another person's actions.
- A good fit with your life.
Also, reinforce your goals by writing them down — jot them in your journal or save them as a screensaver on your PC. Don't forget to include anticipated payoffs like: "I will be healthier and feel better about myself." You'll be on your way in no time.
Make It Real
The closer you feel to your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it, so visualize your success by imagining every last pleasurable detail. "See" yourself looking fabulous in a new outfit, "feel" yourself walking up stairs without getting breathless, and "hear" the congratulations from other members when you reach your goal.
Affirm your goal by saying it aloud. For example: "I enjoy being slimmer." (Stating your goal in the present tense boosts your belief that you can make it happen.)
Above all, make it fun. Enjoy the process of achieving your goal, whether it's getting more exercise or eating more healthfully. Recast it as a favor you're doing for yourself, not as a penalty to be endured!
Schedule Your Success
Realistically consider what you could achieve within six months, then break it down into monthly subgoals. For example, if you aim to increase your fitness level by walking three miles a day, you could break this down into six subgoals by starting with a half-mile daily walk, then increasing the distance by half a mile each month. Break each subgoal down into weekly steps (week one, walk to bus stop; week two, walk to next stop along route before boarding bus, and so on). As the saying goes, a goal is a dream with a deadline!
Stay on Track
Regularly review your plan, and tick off each sub goal as you achieve it. Be prepared to rework any objectives that prove overly ambitious (by extending your time frame, for instance).
There may come a time when, despite your best efforts, you've stopped making headway. It's tempting to give up now, but put it in perspective. As Thomas Edison once explained, many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. So make a list of your achievements to date, and read it often to reinforce your will to persevere.
Reward yourself regularly. You might go shopping, get a manicure or a massage for every few pounds you drop. By rewarding progress you build on your sense of achievement, increasing your overall chances of success.