In the fitness and health industry we talk about setting “SMART” goals, That means carefully formulating goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For example, instead of setting a general goal like “I’m going to eat better” it may be helpful to take that goal through the “smart” process. Let me explain…
To make your goal of eating better more specific we need to evaluate your current behaviour and see what needs to change. Let’s say you drink a diet pop every day. Replacing that chemically-laden beverage with a nice herbal tea would be a specific action you can take to improve your diet. Then we would determine if that goal is measurable, and yes, that’s easy to measure, if you drank seven diet pops a week, you can easily see when that number drops from seven to zero, or anywhere in between. Is our goal attainable? Yes, we have a specific plan of action and you’re confident that you can make the switch. How about realistic? Is there a pop machine at work but no tea kettle? It may not be realistic to have a tea unless you’ve taken care of that stumbling block. Lastly, timely refers to putting some time frame around your goal. We could say the goal is to get to zero diet pops by Jan 31st. That might be enough for the first month, and then we might look at another change for the month of February.
Setting “smart” goals can certainly be a step in the right direction for many people, but in my experience and possibly yours too, they are not enough to help us make significant, lasting change.
To be honest, none of the beneficial changes I’ve made in my life over the years were a result of any sort of “goal-setting” process. My motivation used to be about pushing something AWAY or out of my life. For example, no matter how “smart” the goal, it would be about wanting to lose 20 pounds because I hated my body and the energy of resistance and struggle was driving it.
The whole idea of setting a goal and then using willpower and effort to push away something we don’t want seems backwards to me now.
I have a very different approach to making changes these days. Now my motivation to eat well and take care of myself comes from wanting to FEEL well and BE strong for as long as I possibly can. I just genuinely love myself and want to take care of myself on every level. That’s such a mindset shift from wanting to lose 20 pounds because I hate my body!
This motivation to be truly well has naturally bled over into other areas of my life. Holistic health really means health on all levels of our beings.
I’ve begun describing my approach to total wellness as “dynamic balance“. If you’ve heard me talk about this approach before you may recall that dynamic balance refers to using the natural ebb and flow of life to gradually and permanently build greater and greater wellness in all the sectors of our life; Body, Mind, Relationships, Spirit and Society.
One of the most common problems I see is that we micromanage our lives and never really step back to look at the big picture. We might look at our big financial picture once in a while and think about retirement, but when it comes to work, relationships, health, spiritual fulfillment and our connection to society, we usually just plug along waiting for life to happen to us and wake up one day with a big bag of regret.
Regretting that you didn’t take the time to look after your health is NOT something I want you to experience. Regretting that you didn’t do the personal development or spiritual growth work that would’ve saved your marriage is NOT something you need to live through.
It can seem like an impossible task to balance ALL of these elements, but there IS a way and if you start now it will get easier and easier as your life gets better and better.
Now when I talk about setting goals with clients I try to help them understand their “why”. Where is the desire to change coming from? What do they hope to achieve in their life by creating that new habit? If it’s not coming from a place of self-love and self-care it doesn’t matter how many goals we set, they’re not likely to be terribly effective.