I have to say, this is by far one of my most favourite times of the year, it's like the new year but with pumpkin spice and crisp air.
This time of year is perfect for getting back into routine and getting back on track with your goals, or maybe even setting some new ones.
So, I thought that sharing my top 5 tips for goal setting might be helpful for you right now.
This is a lengthy one, so I recommend setting some time aside, grabbing a tea, and even a notebook to start implementing right away.
- Pick one goal to focus on at a time
Have you ever been so out of routine and so far away from where you’d like to be in your life that you decide to hit a full life reset button? You know, when you go to the grocery store and buy salad and then come home and book into a fitness class for the next morning and then decide you’re going to get up early and meditate? Basically, a full life overhaul all at once.
Even though we have the best of intentions when we set out to achieve many health and wellness goals at once, it doesn’t usually work. How often do you stick with everything when you add a million things onto your plate at a time?
Speaking from experience, this never works and almost always leaves me feeling like I’ve failed or “fallen off the wagon” again.
I get excited about getting back on track and believe me, I want to do all the things at once, but I’ve learned that it’s better to start with ONE new habit or action toward your goals than it is to jump in with 10 new things.
Let’s say you want to feel healthier and get more fit. There are a ton of things you can do that are going to add value to your life and make you feel great, but instead of doing it all, simply start with one small task. Once you’ve got it on lock and it’s become woven into your life, add the next and so on.
For example, maybe you start with getting 2-3 workouts in a week. That’s it. Don’t start a new workout routine, morning journal, a meditation practice, a new book, and meal prepping all in one day. Once you’ve got your workouts down, add your meal prep in and so on.
Good luck! You got this.
- Get Specific
What exactly do you want? Get as specific as you can.
For example, if your goal is to “get fit”, define what that actually means to you. Maybe it’s a process goal like getting to the gym 3 days a week or maybe it’s an outcome goal of lifting a certain amount of weight or running a certain distance. Either works, just get really specific about what you want to achieve.
Research shows that the more specific you are the more likely you are to actually achieve your goal.
- Make Sure Your Goal Excites You
You may have heard the phrase, “be realistic when setting a goal”. It used to be thought that the goal you’re working toward needs to feel in reach in order to feel motivated to achieve it. In fact, the opposite is true.
Research suggests that your goal actually needs to feel big enough for your brain to feel motivated to go after it. This isn’t always the case for everyone, so of course if setting a more realistic goal works for you, keep going with that. However, for a lot of us, setting smaller goals simply doesn’t recruit the brain structures that make us feel motivated to go after it.
Andrew Huberman talks about this mechanism in his Goals Toolkit podcast linked below.
- Define Your Action Steps
Once you’ve decided on a goal that excites you and you’re really specific about what you want to achieve, define the action steps needed to achieve that goal.
Sometimes our big goals feel really overwhelming and almost impossible to achieve, but anything can be broken up into smaller steps.
Think of the metaphor of getting from point A to B on a hiking trail. You set out on the trail (point A) and if you put one foot in front of the other you’re going to inevitably reach the look off point (or point B). You don’t have to do anything crazy to get there and it’s absolutely possible to get there, even if it’s a long hike. Yes, maybe it will get difficult at points, there might be a fallen tree you have to get over or maybe a puddle you have to jump across, but for the most part it's, you guessed it, one foot in front of the other.
I think sometimes we believe that achieving our goals means these big, extravagant and challenging actions, but in reality, achieving your goals is actually many small steps consistently over time. These steps can feel small and insignificant in the moment, but they compound to get you to where you want to be. What steps are you taking today? And tomorrow? And the next day?
Plan the actions you need to do each day to achieve your goals and actually schedule them in. Make them non-negotiable and see what happens in 12 weeks when you stick to them.
- Decide How to Measure Progress
Before you set out on the pursuit of your goal, decide how you’re going to measure your progress. Seeing progress can help us stay motivated to keep going. If you’re working toward a fitness goal like increasing your lifting numbers, record how much weight you can lift in the beginning and keep track as you go. If you’re working on improving energy levels, maybe keep a journal where you can record how you feel on a scale of 1-10 each day. Tracking progress is so important for seeing where you’re at and also a good way to re-evaluate your plan if you’re not seeing the progress you’d like.
I hope these tips help you as you go after your goals this fall! Only 4 more months lefts of the year, let’s get after it!