By incorporating goals into our lives we begin to view our lives in a more long term context rather than the immediate events of a given day or moment. However, it seems to me that all around us are messages that pertain strictly to the “now” (ads for retirement plans aside). Food ads that advertise fast, weight loss ads that advertise quick results. We are programed to respond to immediacy and because of this I see a lot of people setting unrealistic long term goals and getting frustrated when they don’t reach their goals fast enough – because they expect immediate results! I’m suggesting in order to avoid that, we start working within the shorter time frames we’ve become used to in our goal setting, goals on a micro scale as part of your daily routine, workouts or activities. It is still important to set those long term goals, by setting and evaluating your long term goals you have set the stage for a healthy progression to attaining them. Now, think about strategies for getting through each and every day or workout.
The idea is to break down your goals into manageable steps. When you incorporate these small steps into your life you are slowly learning new, healthy behaviors. After a while they become habit, coming naturally. Lets start with your workout routine. This is the most difficult because it’s so easily passed over for something else until it’s been a few weeks since you’ve hit the gym or popped in the video. Something I have found helpful is to record your workouts on facebook or one of the many fitness oriented apps. You can blast your friends with your progress, or lack of it, and get encouragement and support. You can even have a friendly competition with a friend or co-worker(s). This strategy will also create an environment where someone (your friend/co-worker) is holding you accountable. Being held accountable is one of the most important motivators for fitness and dieting.
When faced with diet and nutrition goals, small steps are the key to success. Take your changes one day at a time. For example, when trying to eat more fruits and veggies rather than your goal being “Eat 5 fruits/veggies at least 5 times a week” just make your goal “Eat 5 fruits and veggies per day.” PERIOD. Each day is a clean slate and each day you are going to do your best to reach that goal. You’ll be surprised how this type of uncomplicated thinking will clear your mind. Another way to simplify is to keep a food journal. By recording what you ate you don’t have to think about it or remember it. It’s all there for you. Do it online or on your phone and you can track carbs, protein, calories and vitamins. Again, freeing you up for the big decisions like deciding not to eat the crappy stuff to begin with.
Our daily lives offer a multitude of opportunities for healthy activities. So often we automatically choose not to participate, usually just by force of habit. Start to become mindful and think about how those little daily tasks could be altered to become micro goals and thus stepping stones to your ultimate goal of wellness. Yard work is a great example. Ditch the riding mower and leaf blower for a push mower and a rake. It could be for the entire project or for a portion thereof, set your goal and push forward to achieve it. OK, so yard work makes you cringe or, like me, you don’t even have a yard, you get the picture! You can even make a game of chores. Take our yard work example, whoever bags the most leaves wins (fill in the blank). The goal is to win the prize! NOT to “burn calories” or even “spend time being active”. Your have surpassed that and re-framed the activity so that your goals are anchored on a specific thing for a short period of time with a tangible goal. No one notices the calories! No one cares because it was fun. This works with kids and adults, seriously!
Simple steps make a big difference. Keeping your micro goals simple and attainable preserves your focus for the larger objective of living long and well.