Your approach to goal making can help determine your success.

While January may be the official start of the calendar year, many community activities launch their “new year” in the fall. This is a time to revisit what you have been doing, what you would like to do, see how things are working for you, and how they may not be working!

When starting in a new direction, it is vitally important to set some goals so that you can evaluate your progress. Physical fitness is no exception to this formula. We are often so busy helping everyone that touches our lives, that we rarely have time to apply our good advice to ourselves! So what would you tell your best friend about setting fitness goals for this “new year”?

First of all, I’m sure that you would want them to be successful, right?

Given that goals may fall into two separate categories, can you guess which one you would recommend for your best friend? Would you
prefer them to have an “avoidance” goal or an “approach” goal? Avoidance implies that you are depriving yourself of something. For example, “I will not buy new clothes until I’m a size smaller!”
– what you won’t do. On the other hand, an approach goal is more positive in nature, implying what you will do. Of course, one example is hiring a personal fitness trainer.

Have you ever heard of goal setting as SMART? It certainly is a smart idea, but it is also an acronym

for Specific, Measureable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timed. A goal of “I want to get fit” may be an approach-type goal, but who knows when you are there? It is very different to say, “I want to wear a dress one size smaller by December 25!”

Another way to achieve your goals successfully
is to break your long-term goal down into short- term, two-week increments. We are all motivated when we start seeing success, so why not plan
for it? Small gains add up, even if it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or working on some .•• abdominal crunches during commercials.

Do you want your best friend to feel motivated to achieve her new fitness goals immediately? Help her with her posture. Pulling that tummy in and lifting that chest out while keeping your chin in will make you feel better right way. One of our toughest goals may be to think of ourselves as our best friend. Consider the benefits. You, too, can set SMART goals that will, when “approached”
step by step, motivate you toward a new you. Now that’s a great reason to stand tall and take pride in yourself and your best friend!

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This article originally appeared in MIND BODY SOUL magazine November 2011