Step 3: Getting Specific With Planning
Making your goals "SMART"
With each activity that you want to try, make sure that each goal is:
Specific -- Focus on an actual behavior. "I want to be more active" is not specific enough. "I will take a walk three days this week" is.
Measurable -- How much will you do, and when? E.g. "I will walk for 15 minuts over lunch".
Attainable -- Is your goal reasonable? "I want to walk three miles a day" may be unattainable for someone who has not been active.
Relevant -- What is it that you want to do? What do you like and dislike?
Time limited -- To begin, plan to try out a new behavior for one week. As you become a better self-manager, you can expand out further to a month, or even years!
You have an idea of what you want to accomplish. You're unsure where you'll find the motivation to reach your goals. But you're willing to try. Here are some things to keep in mind to stay on track:
Check your confidence -- For any goal, if you rate your confidence at 7 or above on a scale of 1-10, it is likely to be a realistic goal. If it is below 7, ask yourself: why are you not confident? What problems do you foresee? May it make sense to work on another area?
Start slow -- Take small steps. If you'd like to start walking more, perhaps walking to the cafe for coffee (instead of driving) might work.
Look for alternatives -- Look for ways to achieve your goals. If you'd like to increase your social interaction, it may be easier to invite one close friend to watch a movie, as opposed to going to a movie with a group of friends.
Give yourself a break -- There will be days when you won't want to do anything. Expect it, and be good to yourself. It will feel better to achieve on the days you do meet your goal.
Keep track, but be kind to yourself
Regularly keep track of your goals, and make review part of your routine. Daily monitoring of yourself gives you a better chance of changing your behaviors! But, be kind to yourself: the goal is to be curious and learn from the experience for future planning -- not about "catching mistakes".
Celebrate your milestones no matter how small! Don't always wait to reach your goal -- find small ways to reward yourself along the way. For example, read the paper after you exercise. Treat yourself to a delicious new fruit as a reward for driving past the fast food eatery.
Now, let's start making a plan that combines all of these ideas.