The new year is approaching and we are quickly finding ourselves back in this mindset of reflection. What did you do in 2020 that you are proud of? What do you want to improve on in the coming year? It’s so easy to be critical and set ourselves goals, but when it comes to achieving them, it’s not as simple as we may have anticipated. I have teamed up with Houman Nia, a performance nutritionist, to give you the ultimate guide to setting goals you CAN achieve. Houman coaches people to develop the daily habits that will guarantee life-long results, so he’s got all the tricks up his sleeve.
1) Keep your goal simple
It’s very tempting to go all out and make drastic changes. The problem is that we are creatures of habit, and we need to slowly train ourselves into new ones. Imagine Mary trying to go from never having exercised, smoking 20 cigarettes a day and only eating takeaways, to quitting cigarettes completely, going to the gym 5 times a week and cooking healthy meals from scratch every night. The likelihood is that she won’t be able to keep up these new and extreme habits. As soon as she fails one, she is likely to throw the towel in with the rest too.
The best way to tackle goals is to keep them just out of reach, but not out of sight. How about reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke, going to the gym once a week and cooking a healthy meal from scratch twice a week? Seems more attainable for Mary doesn’t it? Bless her.
2) Don’t base your goals on self-hate
We all have things we want to improve on, it’s normal. Your best version of yourself will be you on your death bed, because everything up until then is a lesson. We are constantly trying to learn and better ourselves, so look at your goals as part of your greater journey. If you have already identified something you want to improve on, then you are already half way there. Don’t waste energy hating yourself because you don’t eat as healthy as you should, it will only set you up to fail, hate yourself more, then give up. Forming new habits isn’t easy, so with a positive mindset you are more likely to pick yourself back up when you stumble!
3) Break down your goal
Create a new years resolution that you would like to have reached by the end of the year. Then, break it down into a 6-month goal, monthly goal, weekly and then daily; with clearly defined methods to measure success. All your smaller goals must align with your big end goal, so your small daily goal will lead you towards your weekly goal, which is working towards your monthly goal, helping you achieve your 6 month goal and ultimately your big new year’s resolution.
For example, Mary decides to quit smoking by the end of 2021. To achieve this, she may decide to reduce her smoking habits to 10 cigarettes a day by June 2021. Her monthly goal could entail reducing her daily cigarette consumption by 1 or 2 each time. Her weekly and daily goals may involve taking up new habits that can distract her from smoking, such as having a bath or walking and listening to a podcast. This way good old Mary is much more likely to get there.
4) Don’t rely on motivation
Motivation has very similar characteristics to emotion. One minute you can be motivated to conquer the world, and the next you can’t even pull yourself out of bed. The secret to success is discipline. During the first few weeks of January, we’ve all got motivation shooting out the roof! Isn’t it mad how quickly it can slip through your fingers…
So, how do you stay disciplined? This is the hard part but once you master this, sticking to your goals is easy as pie. You need to train your self-control. Know your weaknesses and conquer them. Prepare yourself so that sticking to your goals is as simple as you can possibly make it. If you plan go for a jog every morning, lay out your gym kit by your bed the night before!
5) Remember why you started
Before you set your goals, write down WHY you want to achieve them. If you want to take up a new gym class, for example, what will this enable you to do? How will it make you feel? If the reason behind your goal is strong enough, you won’t need to rely on motivation, you will just do it.
6) Consistency is key
It doesn’t matter how big or small your goal, as long as you are consistent. If you are successful for a month and then fall off the wagon for a week, don’t give up completely. Just carry on from where you left off! In terms of nutrition, one week of eating badly means nothing in the grand scheme of things. The same way that eating ‘healthy’ for a month is obsolete in the scheme of an ‘unhealthy’ year.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article! I hope we have provided a bit of insight and advice into setting your goals for 2021.If you found this helpful, please press the heart button below, or leave a comment with your feedback!
Happy New Year!
Nuna & Houman
Houman is a performance nutritionist working with elite athletes as well as coaching non-athletes to develop the daily habits that will guarantee life-long results. With a BSc in Nutrition and Exercise Science, MSc in Sport Nutrition and Level 3 Personal Trainer, Houman has always been passionate about helping people look, feel and perform their best.