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Reprinted with permission from Experience Life

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Do you set too-big goals and resolutions? What I’ve learned from life coaches on how to get real.

My New Year’s–resolution lists looked the same for years: Lose weight! Save more money! Take a trip! Spend more time with friends and family! Read more books!

They were broad, overarching ideas that seemed like the right things to aim for — the goals we all tend to set our sights on.

It wasn’t until I met with a life coach that I started to understand why these goals remained on my wish list each year, with little progress made toward completion.

STEP 1

First, I had to ask myself: Why were these goals important to me? Were these my goals, or other people’s consensus on the goals we should set for our resolutions? So I took stock of each one.

  • Lose weight: I’d like to feel good in my body and move freely without pain. I’d like to be strong so I can accomplish other fitness feats.
  • Save more money: Because why not? Someday my car is sure to need replacement, or we could use the money for an excursion, and it’s always nice to have a security blanket.
  • Take a trip: I love to travel, and there are so many places I’d like to visit. But the biggest barrier always ends up being: How to afford it?
  • Spend more time with friends and family: Is it really about more time or making that time we have feel like more quality time? I bet we’d all wish for more time for visits, but we all have demanding schedules, so really, it’s about setting plans that allow for deeper connections.
  • Read more books: Always worthwhile, but I do read a lot. Maybe I can skip this one?

STEP 2

Next, my life coach and other experts would say I need to make these goals more specific and doable. What actual steps will I take to accomplish them — each day, each week, and each month? What are my mini milestones to celebrate along the way?

  • Lose weight: Specifically, I’d like to lose 30 pounds in six months. It can be a very doable goal when I will: plan meals and pack healthy food for the week on Sundays; lift weights two to three times a week and walk three to four; set a timer to get up from my desk every hour; drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day; go to bed by 10 p.m. each night. Reevaluate my plan each month based on my progress, and decide on additional resources I may need to acquire, such as a workout buddy, personal trainer, nutritionist, etc.
  • Save more money: I will set an auto-deduction from my checking to my savings account for $50 per month, and will reassess in six months to see if I can increase the amount.
  • Take a trip: The savings will help with this, but instead of setting my sights on Fuji, how about a shorter, smaller, and cheaper trip to San Diego?
  • Spend more quality time with friends and family: Call up my loved ones and set up a fun adventure where we can make some great memories.
  • Read more books. Nix this goal and stay focused on the others.

STEP 3

This tip I found the most helpful for the big one we all talk about: lose weight.

When we think of this goal, one life coach told me, it’s all about deprivation. It’s about what we’ll force our bodies to do and what we’ll restrict instead of what we’ll gain and how our bodies will improve.

Instead of “losing weight,” she told me, say, “I want to get stronger.” By recasting this goal as one that will build on where you’re starting from versus what you’ll strip away, it makes it more desirable for your brain. It’s one of power — “I’m just going to get better in this body!”

Now, I will admit that it was hard for me to embrace: As a woman, I feel like society has long encouraged us to get smaller, slighter, more delicate. More recently, as we have been emboldened to love our curves and muscles, and to stand in a place of power, it’s become easier for me to go for that goal. And a surprising fact I learned from weightlifting, which you can read more about in “Lift to Lose Weight”: Building muscles helps you lose weight. Double win!

This excellent — and FREE! — six-month workout plan for our “Strong, Fast, and Fit” program offers a simple format for success with support.

STEP 4

Set mini goals and celebrations along the way, and for crying out loud, cut yourself some slack!

This bit of advice was the nicest any coach ever told me, the ever-crazed perfectionist. We’re all trying our best, and we should get an A for effort. As we move forward toward reaching our goals, they may evolve, or we may decide they weren’t crucial to our values after all. Once we get there, we may find our vision is different than we imagined, whether good or bad in our eyes.

Know that it’s your vision and your dream, and you can dictate what that looks like at any point, whether you’re setting New Year’s resolutions or revising a 10-year plan.

During my interview with author Danielle LaPorte, she shared this refreshing take on balance: It doesn’t exist. (Hear more from her in the video below.)

Really, I realized that this concept of “balance” was some magical ideal that we all shared, like the typical New Year’s resolutions. There’s been a mutual agreement that “balance” is desirable and amazing, and we think we know what it looks like, but really, it varies for everyone. It can’t be defined because it’s your own interpretation.

So as you consider your New Year’s resolutions, think about your own values that guide your vision.

Happy dreaming!