The new year is here, people! And it may have you feeling 1 of 2 ways…. PUMPED to get your butt in gear and crush EVERYTHING… or super lost with zero goals or any idea how to make them.
And I’m not just talking about “Im gona do better!” type of goals… what does that even mean.. and how do you know if you did it? You gotta “do better” at making your goals first. (See what I did there…)
It’s time we start changing the way we think about and make goals. Afterall, they are kind of like promises to ourselves to make ourselves happier! We need to make them more meaningful and impactful… instead of just writing something down and forgetting they exist. And we need to make them work FOR us, instead of it being a daunting escapade we overly ambitiously created on January 1st.
I like to think about goals more so in the form of habits. It can feel less overwhelming that way. When we only focus on the outcome, we lose sight of the process, journey, and the daily wins that happen along the way. Plus, only focusing on the end game puts a lot of emphasis and stress on how “you’re not there yet’ or “how far you have to go,” when you should be focusing on the baby steps to get there, and the progress you have already made.
Think of goals like an onion… there are several layers… and all are needed to make you cry… tears of joy... from all the success you will achieve.
Let’s peel…. starting with the easiest layer:
1. Short Term vs. Long Term
Short term means days or weeks, while long term refers to months or years. And if done correctly, your short-term goals can act as check points for your long-term goals. That way, as you approach your short-term deadlines, you can see if you are on track to reach the long-term goal(s), or if you need to adjust them. Why? Maybe you are on track to reach you goal sooner than intended, or you need to make the goal more realistic for the time initially given. Nothing wrong with adjusting! Better to adjust as you go, then get to the long-term deadline and realize you had a lot more room to grow… ooooor you never had a chance.
2. Next comes the meat and potatoes… Product (Outcome) vs Process (Habit)
Most of the time when initially talking to potential clients, and I ask what they want to get out of having a nutrition coach, they respond “I want to lose _____” or “I want to lift ______” Or something similar to what they want the end product to be. Which is good to know what you want- that is the whole point, right? But HOW are you going to get there? Just because we want something does not mean it will happen. *I want a million dollars…* No? I tried.
To achieve the outcome we desire, we need a pathway of how to get there. This is where product vs process thinking come in. “Product” goals focus on the outcome, the end game, the final thing you want to achieve. “Process” goals are habits you will do on a regular basis to assure you reach the product. BOTH are necessary. If all you have are product goals, how do you know what to do? If all you have are process goals, how will you know if what you are doing is working? You didn’t know this could get so deep, did ya? #thatswhatshesaid
In general, short-term goals tend to be better as process goals, as your check points for your long-term product goals. Can you have a short-term product goal or a long-term process goal? Yup! Having a good mix lets you cover all the bases. However, be careful with a long-term process goal without a check point, because doing the same thing for too long can get boring, and can make it easy to slip out of the good habit you are trying to build.
TIP: Work backwards! It is easier to come up with your long-term product goal to THEN create your short-term process goal(s) to get you there.
TIP: If possible, align your goals with an event! A race coming up, a reunion, etc. The event is happening no matter what, so it can help give you that extra push to stay disciplined!
3. And finally… Make it SMART
You probably heard the term “SMART goals” in school… and never gave it another thought since. Well, unlike AP Calc, SMART goals are useful as an adult! It gives our goals meaning, purpose, and a defined path so you don’t waste your time, energy, money... you know, all the things that come in limited quantities that suck to use the wrong way.
It’s probably been a few years… so let’s review, shall we?
Specific – make your goal narrow, relate it to what you want. This one is pretty hard to mess up if you do the rest of the letters. Let’s move on…
Measurable – give it a set amount/measurement
- Ex. A specific time to achieve on a 5k, vs “I want to get better at running.”
Attainable – don’t set yourself up for failure here, make it something you can do within a certain time frame – but without selling yourself short! (Good thing you have short-term check ins!). This can be adjusted based on the amount of time you will dedicate to it, the frequency of your process goal, skill level, knowledge, experience, etc.
Relevant – your goal should align with your values and objectives
- Ex. Don’t make a goal about running if your goal is to swim faster. Trust me, your fitness level in other areas does NOT translate to being a good swimmer. I have tried and failed miserably lol.
Time Sensitive – put a date on it. Set a realistic but ambitious end date to keep you focused, help monitor progress, and reevaluate.
Ex. ……by August 15th, not “this year”
So.. what would an example of a SMART goal look like? I am so glad you asked!
“I will run a 23:00 5k by December 1st, 2024”
S– narrowed down, hits specific targets
M– 23 minutes
A– ex. Your current 5k time is 25:15, so if it’s January, 11 months to get 23:00 seems doable
R– running goal for wanting to get better at running… #nailedit
T– Dec 1st 2024
Yes, you guessed it, that is a PRODUCT goal because it focuses on the OUTCOME.
You can even set up a short term product goal as a check point:
"I will run a 24:00 5k by August 1st of 2024."
A PROCESS version of these goals would be:
"I will run 4x per week according to my running plan for the next 4 weeks."
The PROCESS gets you to the PRODUCT. After the 4 weeks, re-evaluate. Did you do it? Was it helpful? Do you want to make the same short term process goal for the next 4 weeks, or change the volume to make it better fit the "M" or "A"? Etc.
And there you have it! 3 layers to goal setting to make yourself more productive and successful for this year! My members are in full GO MODE on their daily and weekly habits to get them to their goals. They have re-evaluated from last year, or if they just started, we have come up with some together. Now we are working on creating the paths, or process goals, for them to achieve them!
Come join in on the fun!
Happy New Year, let’s get after it!