It’s February, which means that for the vast majority of Americans, New Years’ Resolutions may be a thing of the past. Few people meet their resolutions, a proven fact that has many contributing factors. One of those factors may be that you aren’t setting the right goals.
Reflecting on the twelve goals I set for this year in my February resolution check-in, I found that there’s already one which I won’t be completing.
The good news is that the problem isn’t my willpower–the problem was the goal I set. That is still somewhat bad news, because it means that I didn’t make the best resolutions I could’ve. But it also means it’s fixable for the future.
So where did I go wrong?
My 12th goal was to get my one-year tracking badge from Lose It. A few days into January, I’d already neglected tracking my food intake.
A few years ago, I had a come-to-Jesus moment, mostly related to the realization that an upcoming event was going to put me in bikini tops and shorts for a few days. It would’ve been OK. I looked fine, but I didn’t feel fine about myself. That inspired me make some changes.
To get on track, I was monitoring everything I ate in Lose It. It gave me a much better sense of calorie count, portion size, my food triggers, and more. I lost some weight through a Calories In-Calories Out tracking approach that, in hindsight, fueled some unhealthy food behaviors, such as binging and fasting.
For additional context to why I set this goal, I’m a hoarder of achievements. It’s the motivation that makes me play video games past when they get boring and encourages me to complete book and movie series just to say I’ve done it. I enjoy crossing off boxes and collecting gold stars.
Initially, this goal made sense. A year-long goal to get an achievement in a medium I’ve used regularly.
It met most of the SMART goal criteria. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. Only it wasn’t actually relevant anymore.
I don’t have the same attitude about food and tracking now as I did when I was using Lose It regularly. I’ve moved away from pure calories in, calories out (CICO) tracking to a more cohesive approach to food that looks a little bit more at protein/fat/carb ratios; sugar and salt content; natural v. artificial ingredients; etc. Instead of taking a superficial CICO approach where I could stay sedentary, starve myself, and lose weight, I’m taking an approach where I’m more focused on gaining strength and flexibility in my workouts and finding energy in my food.
This is not against Lose It or any other tracking apps. I think they’re fabulous. But they don’t help me meet my health goals the way they did before. Thus, even establishing a health goal around that app was short sighted, reflecting more about what I thought my goals should look like than what types of goals would be suit my needs.
That’s my lesson in goal setting. Think about the actual purpose of your goal. What does meeting your goal look like? How will any goal you set help you meet your ultimate aims in a way that’s authentic to you? Can you answer all of these and still take a SMART approach to goal setting?
I’m not replacing this failed resolution. In my look back next year, I will proudly admit my defeat. Instead, I’ll use my monthly boot camps as an opportunity to find other opportunities to reach my goals. In the next few months, I expect to do a no-sugar month. This month is yoga every day. That’s in conjunction with working out during my lunch breaks. These challenges are around health goals that focus more on what I’m looking for in my current life, letting go of the ideas of what I should be and embracing who I am.
Have you been keeping your resolutions? Any resolutions you’ve struggled to complete?