The festive season is in full swing and like me, many of you may already be considering the next year and the plans and goals you want to set in place for 2019. Or if you aren’t yet, at some stage these ideas may creep into consciousness. Frequently goals for the oncoming year are about getting fit, eating better or losing weight, which is why there are a plethora of dietary plans, new gym memberships and weight loss programs promoted at this time. However, if you have ever embarked on a fitness or dietary regimen before, you know they often come with challenges. It can be hard to make changes by yourself. Motivation wanes, life gets busy and plans fall to the wayside. We could, of course, give up goal setting for the New Year altogether – there are many other times of year to plan, however, if you, like me are keen to set some new goals in place, an alternative approach is S.A.M., which stands for support, accountability, and motivation (credit to Belinda Fettke from www.nofructose.com for this specific acronym).
This approach recognizes that embarking on a change in health, weight or habits can be hard when you have to rely on your own motivation to pull you through, particularly when there are so many distracting messages around, for example, commercials, cultural norms e.g. our drinking culture, office morning tea with cake etc. These factors strongly influence behaviour and can work to erode that initial drive and determination to meet a specific outcome or goal.
Using the S.A.M. approach, or something similar helps to reduce the pervasive influence of these environmental and market-driven forces. It involves having a plan to succeed. So what might it look like?
Who or what can help you on your journey? Is it a program that clearly identifies what exercises to complete or what foods to buy and prepare? Is it your family or a friend, cheering you on and going on the journey with you? Is it your naturopath or nutritionist? If you are planning new goals, then think about what support you need. Maybe reflect on things that have highjacked previous attempts or think about your habits and preferences; do you need support to overcome them?
This aspect is about finding a strategy that motivates you enough to hold you accountable for your results. Who could hold you accountable: your naturopath, a coach, a personal trainer, your partner or a friend? To work this way requires giving your ‘accountability partner’ permission to call out unwanted behaviour such as sleeping in and not going for a morning walk. It could involve reporting back on a regular basis. This may work if you are using an online program. Or it could be a weekly email check in with your practitioner.
Goals can be important motivating factors but there is a big difference between an end goal and a means goal, both in formulating it and as motivators. A means goal goes something like this:
“I want to lose 5 kg by February 2019”
A means goal is frequently mistaken as an end in itself, when in fact it is just a means to a larger more exciting and motivating outcome or end goal. I mean how excited and motivated do you think you will feel if you have to get up every morning and think ‘5kg by February’? Motivation quickly wanes. End goals, by contrast, are much more exciting and motivating. They are an ultimate aim often associated with a feeling or something you want to experience. So, in this case, you might think, what is the purpose of losing 5kg? Is it that you want to feel energized and healthy? It might be about describing how you want to feel and look every day, what eating or fitness systems you would like to have in place, what physical challenges or experiences you would like to achieve if you were fitter e.g. hike Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.
End goals are more likely to keep you motivated than means goals but this doesn’t rule out means goals as it is often a good idea to have points of success or achievement along the journey. This is where technology, if you are into it, can help e.g. ways of tracking progress such as fitbits or similar.
For more information on end goals check out this YouTube video by Vishen Lakhiani: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4hGPzRiMAg
The saying goes if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Being clear about what motivates you and defining what you want in the first place is key to following through. Support and accountability will keep you on the path.
Good luck with your 2019 goal setting, and in the meantime, I wish you a safe and happy festive season.