Your first goal: Set up a winning plan

We are almost two months into the new year. How are those New Year’s resolutions going? Are you well on your way to reaching your weight or that financial goal, or have you fallen off?

Is the problem you, or could it be your original goal?

Many of us mistakenly state a goal as an outcome. So for starters, was the goal specific? Measurable? Achievable? Realistic? What was the time frame?

Was the goal “lose 30 pounds” or “start a savings account”? Whatever, there must be a plan of action. It is a lack of plan that sets you up for failure.

And make them action goals. For example: “Walk two days weekly for 30 minutes.” “Have three servings (1½ cups) of vegetables daily.” “Have $3 automatically transferred weekly to my savings account.” This gives you a plan and you know where to start.

If your goal is vague, you don’t know if you actually achieved it. Goals such as “eat better” or “save something” leaves a lot of open holes. The words “better” and “something” need to be defined. You either did it or did not. It must be specific and be measurable.

Now ask the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how certain am I that I can meet this goal?” If it is anything less than 9, make it easier. Make it realistic and achievable.

If your goal was, “Eat one serving of vegetables at lunch and two servings at dinner,” and you rated it as 8, simplify. Perhaps one serving at lunch and one at supper is more doable. Take small steps, ones that make you feel good about accomplishments. After succeeding with the first goal, you are more likely to go for the next step and to be successful.

Goals that are as automated as possible are more likely to be achieved. Companies have made fortunes with clients by lowering impulse opportunities and providing less choice in order to achieve success.

For some, taking that first step is the hardest – be it purging your pantry of those temptations or calling your credit union to arrange for the automated transfer to your newly created savings account.

Human nature is to get the twinge of “what if I can’t do it, what if I need (fill in the blank) later?” Until you take the first step, how can you know what you are dealing with? Do you really need those two bags of potato chips in the cupboard? Is it good for anyone in the family on any level (consider salt content, fat, calories, absence of nutrients, cost)? What can you change that will gift you $3 every week? See any relationship here?

Revise those goals so they are specific, measurable, achievable and realistic with a timeline. Commit to the needed changes to succeed! One step becomes two, then three, then 10. It takes two months for changes to become comfortable. Mindless becomes conscious success.

And finally, make it real by writing it down and reviewing daily. Stick it on your mirror or your computer. Don’t lose sight of where you are headed. If it was good enough to start, stick with it. Weight loss, getting active and improving your financial health are worth your time. No one said it was easy. Well, make it easier for you. or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.