new years goal setting

Why Goal Setting is more than a New Year’s Resolution

This year has been tough; having our routines thrown out of whack, being in lockdown, and experiencing changes to eating and health habits to say the least. We may feel the need to ‘make up for lost time’ by setting aside some big goals for 2021 such as losing 20kg, exercising for 1 hour every day, or even quitting junk food cold turkey with an aim to begin on January 1st.

In this article, Accredited Exercise Physiologist Lucija Peric explains why goal setting is more than a New Year’s Resolution and how you can achieve your goals by changing your lifestyle with small steps, rather than setting the bar too high too soon.

Reality Check

The reality is, that jumping in head first to a strict regime is less likely to result in sustainable change, and more likely to result in seeing the steps towards goals as punishments, rather than enjoyable moments.

On average, weight loss goals are set unrealistically high and are associated with higher amounts of effort and reward. But what happens if we don’t meet our goals? Do we try again from the beginning? How can we push ourselves harder and impose more restrictions? Should we ask for some help?

Related article: Holiday Health: Looking after your mind, body and soul 

Give Yourself some Credit

Firstly, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s okay to feel disheartened, upset or anxious if you feel that you haven’t met your goals this year, especially if you have had other things on your mind. Secondly, it’s unrealistic to think that you will never encounter obstacles or barriers along the way, and that’s where strategies come in.

Finding the Why – SMART Goal Setting

Before we discuss barriers and strategies, let’s have a think about the reason why we want to achieve something. A goal of ‘losing 20kgs in 3 months’ is not specific nor realistic unfortunately, however a goal of ‘losing 10 kg’s in 6 months’ so that you’re ‘able to run with your children and not feel puffed’ is SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Barriers and Strategies

As mentioned above, there will be times that you might encounter some barriers specific to you such as wet weather, lack of access to gyms or grocery stores, injury, and most common of all; a lack of time. Once you start thinking about the possible barriers, you can also begin planning strategies to overcome them.

For example:
Barrier: A lack of time to complete a 1 hour training session. Strategy: Try to be active in as many ways as possible during the day; parking a little further away than usual, using stairs instead of lifts, going for a lunch time walk or even doing some exercises before dinner.
Barrier: Lack of healthy food options in the fridge. Strategy: Stock up your pantry with some fruit, vegetables and healthy snack options.
Barrier: Lack of time to prepare lunches for the next day. Strategy: Meal prep lunches for the week ahead on the weekend.
Barrier: Wet weather outdoors for you usual walk/run. Strategy: Do an online exercise video or home workout program.

And the list can go on and on.

Trust the Process

Setbacks can happen from time to time, and that’s okay! Rather than doubling up, pushing yourself harder or ‘starting again on Monday’, you can pick up where you left off at any time, subject to your wellbeing of course. Meeting your end goal doesn’t happen after 1 day or 1 week, it takes time and relative consistency. By relative consistency, I mean that you’re consistent on average, but still enjoy some time to indulge or overcome barriers. Trust the process.

Goal Setting is more than having a New Year’s Resolution. It’s about setting lifestyle behaviour changes that are sustainable, so that you can lead a fulfilling life and enjoy the process.

Need some extra help?

If you’re struggling to set goals or need some help with developing strategies when life gets in the way, speak to an Accredited Exercise Professional today. They can help you with motivation, setting realistic goals and finding a place to start.

To find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist in your area, click here.

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Written by Lucija Peric. Lucija is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at With Pride Integrated Health Care and is interested in chronic pain, mental health, neurology and health promotion.