4 Steps For Goal Planning

Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet! 

By: Sierra Morris, Sarasota Wellness Coach

Most people create New Year’s Resolutions with the best intentions to ditch their bad habits, become healthier, spend more time with loved ones, etc. From January 1st to right about now you were probably really excited that 2020 is over and you were ready to make some positive changes for 2021.   

The first couple of weeks are filled with motivation and behaviors that do actually help achieve these resolutions, but it becomes harder and harder to maintain this motivation and make choices that create progress. Maybe you are one of these people, and you are feeling less motivated to reach your goals with each passing day. Maybe you skipped the gym one day last week because you were tired, or you overindulged in some treats with the mindset “I’ll restart tomorrow.”  

 While you should absolutely listen to your body and know when to take a rest day or treat yourself, it's equally important to know how to stay motivated and on track towards your goals. 

Did you know it can take up to 60 days to build a habit? So, practicing behaviors that will help you reach your goal in those first 60 days is vital—especially when you don’t feel motivated.

The best way to create and sustain motivation is to have a plan. I want to share a four-step goal-setting technique to help keep you get motivated, create healthy habits and plan for any obstacles that might get in your way.

Step 1: Goal

You probably already have a goal in mind: lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, sleep more, spend time with family, etc. These are great starting points but in order to set yourself up for success, narrow down your goal and add as much detail as possible: Make it measurable: add data or numbers that will tell you when you actually reach your goal. Be realistic: will you be able to reach your goal in the time you chose? Do a gut check and be honest—you probably know deep down whether it is realistic or not. Make it relevant: make sure your goal fits into your life and your aspirations. Set an end date: give yourself a date, month, or timeframe to complete your goal.

Step 2: Outcome   

Step 2 is all about creating and sustaining motivation. Visualize and feel what it would be like to achieve your goal. Making it as vivid and as real as possible will only strengthen your motivation to progress toward your goal.  Ask yourself these questions while closing your eyes and visualizing: How will I physically feel when I reach my goal? How will I mentally feel when I reach my goal? What benefits will there be when I reach my goal? What will it look like to achieve my goal? What will my life be like when I reach my goal?   

Step 3: Challenge

In step 3, you are brainstorming obstacles, challenges, and anything that might get in your way when you’re trying to reach your goal. Visualize and feel what these challenges might be. Bringing awareness to these will help you manage your expectations and recognize them immediately when it’s happening. Ask yourself these questions while closing your eyes and visualizing: What behaviors do I have now that might hinder my goal progress? What time of day do I find hardest to motivate myself? How do I feel when I am least motivated?    

Step 4: Plan 

Step 4 is all about coming up with a plan to break through those obstacles or challenges that could arise on the way to your goal. An effective way to plan for these obstacles and challenges is an: If____, then ____ statement.  If____, then _____ statements acknowledge the challenge you are facing and provide an alternative behavior to help you achieve your goal. Rather than telling yourself you will avoid the challenge, these statements allow you to take action toward your goal.

Here’s an example going through all 4 steps:

Step 1: My goal is to drink at least 100 oz of water every day for 3 months.   

Step 2: I will feel healthy and hydrated. I will also feel less hungry after drinking all that water. My skin will be clearer and more elastic. I will be proud of myself for accomplishing my goal. Drinking 100 oz of water every day will help me make other healthy eating and drinking choices. When I achieve my goal, it will be automatic for me to bring a reusable water bottle wherever I go and fill it right up when I finish it.   

Step 3: Some days, I don’t have time to fill up my water bottle. The morning is the most challenging time for me to drink water because all I want is coffee. When I am least motivated, I feel tired, worn out, and sometimes stressed out.   

 Step 4: One challenge I know I will face is that some days are so busy I don’t always have time to remind myself to drink water. Using the if___then,____ statement: If I don’t remember to drink enough water on my busiest days, then I will set a reminder on my watch every hour to remind myself.

Sometimes goals can feel daunting at first, but with an effective plan in place from the start, you’ll be able to achieve them in no time.