Summer is only a few short months away and that means shorts, dresses and little bikinis. I won’t exactly be sporting a little bikini, thank you twins, but I do plan to look amazing in a bathing suit. Even though I like the way I look in shorts and dresses right now, I’m not really comfortable stepping out in public in a bathing suit.
I plan to change a few habits that will help me lose weight and look great this summer.
Meeting goals and changing habits are extremely hard. If it was easy, we would never set New Year’s resolutions and all of us would be at our perfect weight. If we were to break down our goals and habits into small doable actions, we just might be able to accomplish them.
It is often said to write goals in the SMART format. The goals should be specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
For example, lose weight is not a SMART goal. It is too broad. I want to lose 7 pounds by April 30, 2012 by changing 6 behavioral habits over the next 6 weeks. This means I need to lose 1.2 pounds/week. This goal follows the SMART format. To break it down even further, I need to define what behavioral habits I’m going to change.
In order to change behavior, you must target both sides of the brain. According to the book Switch, to change behavior you need to direct the rider (rational side of brain), motivate the elephant (emotional side of brain) and shape the path (the situation or environment). I have set this goal because I want to take my children swimming for the first time this summer. Losing weight is the rider, feeling comfortable in a swimsuit so I can swim with my children is the elephant and changing my habits is the path.
The rider needs clear and specific instructions. My goal is to lose 7 pounds by April 30, 2012 by changing behavioral habits, but I need to outline how I’m going to make that happen.
My plan is to introduce a new habit every week. The weeks will alternate between a nutrition and workout habit. This way I will be able to stick with a nutrition and workout habit for two weeks before adding a new one.
My habits need to meet the following criteria:
- something I can do daily
- something I’m 90-100% confident I can achieve
Example: My nutrition habit this week is to consume 2 cup of water when I wake up and with my meals. This equals ~10 cups a day.
Next, I want to create an action trigger for each habit. An action trigger is telling yourself you will do XX (action) when you encounter YY (a trigger).
Example: I will drink 2 cups of water when I make my coffee and before eating my meals. I will also write my habit on a post it note and tape it to the refrigerator.
Commitment and Consistency
To fully commit to my goal and change habits, I need to be consistent. It is human nature to desire consistency and to look like a consistent person.
One way to ensure consistency is to write out our goals and habits. I have outlined my goal, habits and action triggers for the next 6 weeks in a notebook. I have written down this week’s habit on post it notes and stuck them in several areas of my house, so I am constantly reminded. I also wrote this week’s habit on my daily to do list. The act of checking it off gives the feeling of accomplishment. Written commitments are extremely effective due to the amount of effort it goes into making them.
Another way to ensure consistency is to publically announce your goals. You do not have to announce your goals in person. You can always email a friend, share your goal on a social media site or even share it on a blog.
Each week, I will share my progress, my new habit and action trigger.
Writing goals and changing habits summary:
- Write your goals in the SMART format
- Pick a habit every two weeks that will get you closer to reaching your goal
- Each habit should be small, measureable, something you can do daily and something you’re 90-100% confident you can achieve
- Make an action trigger for each habit
- Write your goal and habits down on several post it notes and stick them in various visible area in your house, car and office
- Publically commit to your goal
- Heath,C. and Heath, D. Switch. New York: Broadway Books, 2010.
- Cialdini, R.B. Influence. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.
What are you goals?
Do you have an effective process to completing your goals?