Intention vs Goal
It’s now March of the new year, and for many, this means that the New Year's Resolution for optimizing health has been discarded or forgotten.
Why is that?
Some may not be sure of what they want to achieve, while others may know exactly what they want, but have no idea how to achieve it.
We can resolve to lose weight or get healthier, but without a plan of action that will be acted upon, those resolutions tend to fade over time.
Goal setting is that plan of action that we take with proper knowledge, confidence, commitment, and motivation that helps us attain a specific goal within a specific time frame that is not only relevant but also challenging and measurable (1).
We can resolve or intend to get healthier, but without a goal or plan of action, we may never achieve that intention.
So, the first step to making our resolutions a reality is to set attainable goals.
Setting attainable goals require a clear focus on your intentions, or what you are resolving to do, like resolving to lose 10 pounds over the next three months.
Next comes the goal setting, or plan of action to make that happen.
This step can look different for each person. For example, someone who has been eating the Standard American Diet for several decades and struggles with chronic conditions may need to begin by changing their eating habits, while someone who has been eating a clean, whole-food diet may need to incorporate regular movement into their daily schedule.
Remember to keep your goals “SMART” (2):
Specific: What will be accomplished?
Measurable: How will I know when it’s done?
Attainable: Is this possible for me to accomplish?
Relevant: Is this meaningful to me?
Time-bound: When will this be accomplished?
An example of a SMART goal related to losing 10 pounds for someone who has been eating the Standard American Diet for decades can be, “I will eat only clean, whole foods at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (in specified quantities appropriate to the individual) with no snacking throughout the day for three months”.
Making Goals Concrete
Breaking larger goals down into smaller “bite-sized” actions helps set us up for success as it makes the goal feel more manageable. For example, the SMART goal above can be dialed in by creating a clean, whole-food meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each week.
Understanding that obstacles will arise and having a contingency plan can help keep us on track with our overall goal. For example, eating only clean whole foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be easier to accomplish when we are cooking these meals at home. However, there will be times when we must eat out at restaurants, and having a plan can help keep us on track with our goals. For example, when eating out, we can check menus online and choose restaurants and meals that fit our new eating pattern to keep us on track with our goals.
Support and Re-Evaluate
Having someone to be accountable to and gain support from can be invaluable when working on achieving goals, and research shows that this can promote goal attainment (3).
Taking time to evaluate our progress as we work toward our goals helps us to check in with ourselves and see if we are on track. It can also help us to determine if our goals are supporting our intentions and if this is truly what we want.
If you have resolved to reach your health goals in 2023 and would like some help in mapping out your plan, it would be my pleasure to assist you with that process. You can get in touch here.