It’s that time of year again, everyone looks ahead to a new year, and promise themselves that it will be different. They WILL work on those resolutions, achieve those goals, and become the best person they can be. You hear talk about goal sheets, S.M.A.R.T. goals, all of it.
Then, somewhere around March, things might start faltering a bit, and as the year progresses you find yourself back where you were the year before, with a forgotten resolution sheet hidden behind the kids homework on the fridge.
Where does it really go wrong? It is fine to have goals, and good to have a plan to achieve those goals. But the one big fault in the R of smart goals (Realistic) has a side that nobody ever talks about,
In our get it now got to have it society, we expect fast results and when they don’t happen, we turn to the next greatest thing that promises it. That is why fad diets, gimmicks that promise “20 lbs in 20 days” and similar proliferate. And they may work in a short term, but they are not sustainable.
Did it take you 20 days to get overweight? No? Oh, it took a few years? Then why do you set the expectation that you will lose 20 lbs by April? It’s not a good expectation, and when you miss, you give up on the goal. Want to run a marathon? Probably not going to happen in two months, unless you’ve already been laying the groundwork for a long time.
One of the best things you can do for yourself, is set yourself up for the small successes that lead up to the big one. Those wins, those rewards, achieving those small steps will keep you going towards the big goal. Maybe you can’t walk up the Empire State building today. But you can walk up 5 steps today and tomorrow. Then maybe 8 steps the next couple days, and so on.
I will pick on diet, because that is a big one for a lot of people, eat better and lose weight. January 1, they write those resolutions down, then for the next few days they eat salads, bran muffins, coffee without creamer, and by the third day they are binging donut holes. This happens because the expectation doesn’t match reality. It’s extremely hard to completely change a diet overnight.
But, instead of coffee and a donut, you can have coffee and sourdough toast, maybe some cottage cheese with it. Instead of a sugared cola with lunch, have a diet. Maybe once or twice a week change to a steamed vegetable instead of a high fat side for dinner. And that’s enough for a couple weeks before the next change.
Is this slow? Yes. But, it’s also sustainable, and as long as you actually manage your expectations and really pay attention to what that R means in SMART goals, you’ll set yourself up for success on the way to a better you.
Written by: John Paitel, Storm Self Defense & Tactical Fitness
John Paitel is the founder and principal instructor of Storm Self Defense and Tactical fitness, providing self defense seminars and fitness training for the tactical community. A two-time world champion in Tae Kwon Do, he has over 30 years experience in martial arts and teaching others how to effectively implement safety and self-defense techniques.