You probably have an outcome in mind, but an outcome isn't a goal. Everyone does this all the time. Important practical life skills—such as the right way to set goals, negotiating a raise at work, and budgeting for rent, utilities, and groceries— are not usually taught in school or at home. Some of us may have some catching up to do, and that's okay.
Let's start with goals. Losing 10 pounds, fitting into your old pair of skinny jeans, or feeling confident in your clothes are not health resolutions or goals. The first two are outcomes, and the third is a desire.
Goals are the daily actionable habits in between that get you there. Hitting 10,000 steps per day, sticking to a reasonable intermittent fasting window without starving yourself, eating salmon on Sunday nights, and consuming only low-glycemic foods at breakfast are all daily actionable goals.
Desire is the unseen fire that fuels your daily habits. If you lack the right motivation to stick to your goals, there's a disconnect between what you desire and the actions that you set for yourself.
If your desired outcome is to lose 20 pounds, but you're not even the least bit interested in putting better food in your mouth, it's because you know deep down that losing 20 pounds isn't going to change you as a person (and, you're right, it won't).
It might be that you don't desire to be thin, but you desire to have the feeling that you associate with being thinner. What goes along with being at the weight you want to achieve? Could it be feeling more confident in your clothes? Perhaps to feel more energetic and thus able to spend more time with the people you love?
Your desire can't be just, "I want to be thinner." There's not enough fuel in that statement to motivate you to make it happen. It takes high motivation and a strong level of commitment to fulfill your health resolutions, so go and find that!
This mistake is more common than it ought to be. Chasing a goal based on someone else's desires means it never entirely feels your own.
I was once in a relationship with a guy who loved bodybuilding. At the time, I would kill myself in the gym and restrict my food so much that nothing felt enjoyable. My adrenals were burned-out, and I didn't personally find any joy in my new muscles. But we talked about it so much, and I convinced myself that I would be crazy if I weren't into it, too.
Even though I was "meeting my goals in the gym," life just kind of felt grey. At the time, I didn't realize that the goal of looking like a lean fitness competitor wasn't genuinely of my own.
When I stopped doing all of that—and again embraced things I love like Pilates, yoga, hikes, weights, and an occasional slice of delightfully wholesome pizza—the world felt colorful all over again. I didn't stop being healthy; I just chose to do it in a different way.
It wasn't the guy's fault—I had mistaken his goal as my own. And hey, I still love squats in my workouts. But I just learned how to not badger myself over it. And to keep my goals real.
Whoopsies. This gets us every time. Even if you avoid the three mistakes above, not painting your actionable goal into your everyday life can derail your results.
You may have heard of SMART goals in your work life. Still, just in case you need a recap: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Setting SMART goals is a great start, but you also have to visualize how your daily actions reasonably fit into your current life situation.
For instance, if you're a nurse who works 12-hour shifts, then "making a kale and fresh blueberry smoothie for breakfast every morning" might not be viable in your situation. In this case, a goal of "Overnight oats meal prepping for four days in advance" would be a more helpful idea to keep my healthy breakfast resolution active.
Here is a step-by-step process to achieve your healthy new year resolutions for 2022:
1. List your resolutions in a journal, whiteboard, phone screen cover, or anywhere that you can see or read them daily.
2. Why do you want this? Visualize the time in your life when you will feel great about achieving what you have desired today. Your 'why?' will help you find your motivation to keep moving forward.
3. Take inventory of your desires and make sure they are yours. Please don't rely on other people to define or achieve them.
4. Make a list of the daily actionable steps that will support you in achieving that outcome? You can make a list for the next day before sleeping.
So, now you know, first comes desire, then the actionable daily goals. The outcome will be a natural by-product of the desire and daily actions.
It's okay to start with the outcome in mind if you're not sure what the desired feeling is, but work backward until you identify the desire.
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