By: Zach Columbia. B.S NASM. FPT
New Year, New You right? It would be putting it lightly to say, we talk about goals a lot at Pulse. With a new year upon us, we’ve been trying to guide our readers on how to set S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-based) Goals. We’ve also been focusing in on the Actionable part to guide our members in creating a bulletproof plan. The problem, there is no such thing as a bulletproof plan when it comes to accomplishing your goals. Here’s why.
Okay, let’s say you got the SMART Goals Acronym down. You have a specific, realistic, and measurable goal you want to accomplish by a certain date. Awesome! You also came up with a game plan on how to accomplish your goal by that date. For many, this looks something like; I want to lose 5% body fat by April 1st. Then, you set up your action plan for how you’re going to do it. You decided that in order to accomplish your goal, you’ll wake up at 6:00am and go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In addition, you’ll eat a salad for lunch everyday and you won’t have any sweets or alcohol except for on Friday night.
To me, that sounds like an appropriate plan based on the goal.
As a coach with years of experience, I would suggest being even more specific than that; however, for most, this plan would be a really good starting point.
Let’s say this was your plan and you hit the ground running your first week.
Monday morning, it wasn’t easy but you rolled out of bed and made it to the gym. You had a salad at lunch and didn’t eat anything sweet after dinner, even though you had a craving for something sugary. Wednesday, you hit the snooze button twice before getting out of bed. You showed up late to your workout, but you still got a decent sweat on and stuck with the salad for lunch.
Friday: same thing, snooze, showed up late to the gym and cut your workout short. Then, your co-workers convinced you to go to lunch with them. You told yourself it was okay, because you’d just have a salad, which you ordered, but also shared in the appetizers ordered by your colleagues. To make up for it, you decided not have any alcohol Friday night. When your spouse poured a drink, you couldn’t resist, but only had one.
Week 2 rolls around and Monday morning just came too soon.
Instead of going to the gym, you decide you’ll go on Tuesday this week. Monday crushes you. Work is crazy and stressful and when you get home, that bottle of wine just seems too enticing. Tuesday morning, do you make it to the gym? Of course not. Wednesday? You go, but your heart just isn’t in it. You walk on the treadmill for a bit, and then hit the shower. By week 3, your goal is a thing of the past and those old habits have taken form.
What I just described is sadly way too common. We’ve been pounding it into our members heads, to set goals and establish a plan to accomplish their goals, but just because your plan fails, doesn’t mean you have to! A plan is great. A plan is necessary; but being able to adapt is just as important. Life isn’t perfect, you’re not perfect, and your plan isn’t going to ever be perfect.
In the scenario I described, all that was required, was a little adaptability to continue moving in the right direction.
For instance, can’t wake up first thing in the morning? Then change your plan. Tempted by your co-workers? Then change your plan. Go to the gym during your lunch break. That just solved two problems. Can’t cut out sweets? Don’t! At least not right away. Plan on allowing yourself sweets a couple of times throughout the week.
A plan has to be as realistic for you as the goal you are trying to accomplish. A plan also needs to continuously be in a state of optimization. When something doesn’t seem to be working or sustainable, don’t give up, just adapt and find solutions. Your plan should also include scheduled weekly and monthly checkpoints where you look at how to make improvements to your plan. If you’ve never been successful in accomplishing your goal before, then how do you know you created the best plan to get there? You don’t, so be willing to assess how it’s going and make modifications.
When it comes to setting a goal, creating a plan, and then adapting your plan, just remember this; sticking with it, is much more important than sticking to it!