Ah, the second week of January. This is when things get real. Life starts eating into that newfound resolve, and, all of a sudden, we’re passed out in front of a nearly empty pizza box and five empty beer cans after not working out since sometime before the college football championship game.
Instead of the cycle of excitement, execution, failure, trying again, failing, and then pretending there was no resolution, why not take some time to plan in a more substantial way than tweeting out vague goals through a hangover on January 1?
Continuous improvement is how getting things done has happened in business and other professional orgs for, well ever. However, it took until the mid 1980’s for some dude from Motorola to write down some steps, and give it a catchy name (Lean, Six Sigma, etc.).
The most important tenet of continuous improvement is using a system to track results and then taking action on them. The SMART goal setting process is widely used (and even more widely abused) in the working world but can be applied to just about anything.
It’s nice to think about generalized goals, where the path from A to B is basically ???, but the end goal is always reached. However, without plotting a map, it’s easy to get lost in Question Mark Land. Instead of setting a resolution to get outside more, why not set a specific goal of taking a walk outside 3x a week on weekdays and 1x on weekends, for, say, at least 30 minutes a session? That way you have something to hang on to as the target that isn’t so generalized and easy to blow off.
If it is a goal, you can find a metric for it. Here’s just a few associated with health and wellness:
Blood pressure, heart rate, weight, body fat percentage, calorie count, step count, time meditating, time with increased heart rate, resting heart rate, sleep tracking… it feels rather endless. Tech has never been better for being able to generate data about us. Why should Facebook and Putin be the only beneficiaries of it?
No, Bob, you aren’t going to marry an 18 year old Instagram model. Making impossible goals ensures failure, and enough failure will make even the strongest people want to quit.
No, Barbara, you aren’t going to lose 100 lb by bikini season. The human body is not capable of taking off weight that fast in any sort of healthy manner.
Seriously, Google can help. Look up what a few experts say about your situation and learn what healthy expectations look like. I’m not saying don’t dream big, but maybe gauge your capabilities vs. your dreams and act accordingly.
Be Time Based
Without a deadline, a goal is just a wish. If the deadline isn’t going to work, you can always move it or continue it, but it’s better to have some idea of the timeline than to look down some never ending project. That can be paralyzing for some.
Without follow-up, all of this is for naught. Write down your goals. Write down your progress toward those goals. Then go back and check in. How did you do? Where were the fail points? Where were the wins? Write that down too. Then, next time, or if you ever need to reference how you did a thing, you’ve already got it. That way, making mistakes over and over can possibly be avoided, resulting in less frustration and more satisfaction.
Borrowing techniques from corporate America is usually tedious, but this stuff actually works. If one of your resolutions is to be better than you were the day before, determining what to change and then planning those changes and following up to make sure they happen is a quite efficient way to go about things. The best part is that it’s all so changeable. If something isn’t working, then look at your data and come up with a theory about why. Then work through setting a goal and setting up your actions on how to test the theory to try again.
Here’s to better being better humans in 2019, through mindful goal setting and judicious follow-through.