(If you want the Goal Sheet I mention in the video, you can download it here, or at the bottom of this article.)
(If you’re interested in learning more about our new Exercise Accountability Group, we have room to add a few more members. Find out more about it here.)
I recently launched a new exercise accountability group for people with mild cognitive impairment, and it’s going great. I’m loving it.
But as we were getting started, some of the members said they would like guidance on how to set exercise goals that are achievable. So I did a little video, just for them.
And then I thought, why just for them? Anybody could benefit from this information. So today, what I showed them, I want to share with you. I hope you find it helpful.
This is my take on the way to set health goals that is so easy and effective that you cannot fail.
If you are determined to make healthy changes in your life to defend your cognition and potentially halt or reverse your cognitive loss, then let’s get you started off on the right foot. Let’s set you up for success. By setting goals in a way that makes it virtually impossible to fail.
So I begin with this simple question. Would you rather do this in a way that has a failure rate of 92 percent or a success rate of almost 100 percent?
Leading question, right? You want to succeed. You need to succeed. And you can.
There is a right way to go about goal-seeing and a wrong way, and most people go about it the wrong way. They set themselves up for failure, and they succeed at failing.
We know that only 8% of people who set a New Year’s resolution succeed at it. Here’s where the rest go wrong. Usually, it’s in one of three ways. Their goal is:
- Too ambitious.
- Too vague.
- Or there was an obstacle and they didn’t anticipate and solve for it.
So let’s go about it the right way instead. There is a whole science around health behavior change, and we know what works for real people in the real world. And it basically boils down to this.
It involves small, well-defined changes tackled one at a time, that you feel ready to do, and that you schedule into your life in a way that turns them into habits.
The person who succeeds isn’t the person who says, “I’m going to lose 100 pounds.” That’s the person who fails. The person who succeeds is the person says, “I’m going to lose one pound.” And then does that 100 times.
So to give a framework to this formula for success, I’ve created a simple one-page goal sheet. You don’t need to use it, although if you want it, you’ll find it at the bottom of this article. (To download your copy of the goal sheet, click on the sheet.) I just want to have it to show you the steps you need to take, because they guarantee success.
One modest goal. My goal is to . . . go for a walk in my neighborhood.
Clearly defined, and scheduled: How much? How often? What days? What time of day?
This one is essential. You have to schedule it into your day. Until it’s scheduled, it’s not a goal. It’s a just a vague intention, that may or may not happen, and too often doesn’t.
Think of it this way. Say you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in a long time in the grocery store. You chat and you say, “Oh, hey, yeah, we should get together.” And you both go, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll get together.”
But you’re not going to get together. On the other hand, what if you said, “We should get together sometime. What are you doing next Wednesday at 2 o’clock? Let’s meet at Starbuck’s and have coffee.” That’s actually going to happen.
The next two steps on the goal sheet are just as crucial. How ready are you to make this change? And how confident are you that you can do it? On both of these, your score needs to be an 8, 9 or 10. If it isn’t, that’s the barometer that tells you that your goal is too ambitious. So dial it back. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll be ready to do more, and then next thing you do will be as easy as this was.
And the final three steps on the goal sheet, do them them too. Don’t blow them off. This goal sheet is the recipe for success and these are the ingredients.
Imagine if you were baking a cake, and you said, “Eh, I got flour. I got sugar. I got eggs. I don’t need the rest of that stuff.” Your cake isn’t going to come out right.
So don’t take a half-baked approach to health behavior change. Follow the recipe.
Affirmation. This matters. How you define yourself. How you talk about yourself. I am a person who . . . walks in my neighborhood.
Accountability. For the Accountability Group that I’m working with, that’s not a problem. They’ve got a whole bunch of accountability partners. But all you need is one. That could be a family member, or a friend.
And then reward yourself. Something fun. Something meaningful. Something you look forward to enough to help you over the hump on a day when the motivation just isn’t there.
That’s it. It’s that simple. But it really works. It works well.
The thing that matters to me more than anything else is your success. I want you to set healthy goals for yourself, and I want you to be successful. I know you can. I know you will. Let’s make this happen for you.
(To download the Goal Sheet, click on the image below.)