New year, new successes

Goal setting skills will make it possible to turn your aspirations into plans and your plans into successes.

Physical activity often makes it to people’s New Year’s resolution list. Unfortunately, many fall short of their hopes. How can you be successful? Michigan State University Extension offers some advice.

Goal-setting skills are essential to help identify, adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. The critical steps that are needed to achieve both short-term and long-term health goals are value and importance. Motivation comes from the importance you place on the change you want to see. When a choice is made to create change, confidence will stem from positive preparation. Writing down the answers to key questions will take you from contemplation to action.

Specific — What will you do? It’s not enough to say, “I want to walk/ski/swim or run more.”

Measureable — How much and how often? List the specific number of days a week, length of time, etc.

Achieveable — Are these goals achievable?

Realistic — Where will you do it? Going from the couch to a marathon takes lots of successes along the way. Start with short term and build on successes for the longer term.

Timely — When will you start doing it? Specify the date.

You will also want to identify barriers — Plan and eliminate excuses. Some examples include:

  • A consistent time: Solutions will be individual according to routines and needs. For some, early morning is best, for others lunch may provide an opportunity and for others, evening will work.
  • Motivation: Don’t do it alone. Partner with someone that has a similar interest and schedule. When someone else is counting on you, you will be less likely to break your “appointment.”
  • Cost/equipment: New is not necessary. There are great resources online and in resale stores for beginning. Once you’re committed, dedicated and able to save for upgrades, it will be rewarding and motivating to invest in gear you are excited to use.
  • Weather: There will be rain, snow and temperature challenges. Having an indoor backup will keep you from scrapping the day and getting off course.

Goal setting skills will make it possible to turn your aspirations into plans and your plans into successes.

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